Masks are required to be worn when entering or moving within any public indoor space, while using or waiting to use public (buses, light-rail) or non-personal (taxis, car services, ride-shares) transportation services, and while outdoors in public spaces when maintaining a physical distance of 6 feet from another person who’s not of the same household is not feasible.
Q: When should you wear a mask?
A: You should wear a mask or face covering whenever you’ll be around someone you don’t live with, including:
- In any indoor public space
- While exercising in an indoor public space
- While you are in a public pool area, but not swimming
- On public transportation or when ride-sharing
- When waiting in line
- When receiving health care
- Outdoors, if you are unable to stay 6 feet away from others
- While talking to servers/hosts, waiting to order or for food, or talking to others at the table while not actively eating or drinking
Q: When can you take off your mask?
A: There are times when it’s okay to take your mask off when you’re away from home, such as:
- When actively eating or drinking at a restaurant
- If a hearing-impaired person needs to read your lips
- When you’re not sharing a common area, room or enclosed space with others
- When you are getting a service to the nose or face
- When you are officiating at a religious service
- When delivering a speech to an audience (performers must be 25 feet from audience)
- When you must temporarily remove your mask for identification purposes
- While you are swimming in a public pool
- When outdoors in public and can stay 6 feet from others
You should replace the mask as soon as you can after these activities to reduce the risk of infection.
Q: What kind of mask should you wear?
A: Cloth mask or face covering: Cloth face coverings should fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face, include multiple layers of fabric, allow for breathing without restriction, and be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape. Face coverings need to cover the nose and mouth at all times and should remain in place until taken off safely.
The Pitkin County Public Health Order Language states:
- Face coverings are required to be worn outside whenever there is a risk of being within 6 feet of another person who is not of the same household.
- Face coverings are required to be worn while using or waiting to use public (buses, light-rail) or non-personal (taxis, car services, ride-shares) transportation services.
- In addition to mask requirements currently required in Pitkin County for indoor public spaces such as grocery stores, retail, and restaurants while being seated, mask requirements will include the following: All Offices, Lobbies, Elevators, Indoor Businesses, Common Areas and Gyms (except while using an indoor pool), and when receiving a personal service (massage, hair salon, etc).
- Businesses must post signs at entrances that instruct customers they must wear a mask when entering or moving around inside the business and must refuse service to individuals not wearing masks.
- Outdoor team and recreational sports must follow Public Health guidance on facial coverings and COVID-19 Business Safety Plan.
- The following individuals are exempt from face covering requirement:
- Individuals two (2) years old and younger; or
- Individuals who cannot medically tolerate a face covering.
Q: What other mask precautions can you take?
A: Other than wearing your mask properly and making sure it fits well, you can layer up on masks to ensure the reduced transmission of COVID-19. Some examples are:
- Fabric cloth mask that has multiple layers
- This does not include the layering of scarves, valve masks, or neck gaiters
- Double Mask
- Wear a nonmedical disposable mask on and around your nose/mouth area for a snug but breathable fit
- The second mask should secure the first mask’s perimeter against your face
- Do not layer two disposable masks
For extended information on these precautionary steps you can take to maintain community safety, visit this latest update.
Link to the full public health order HERE.
Mask Requirements After Vaccination
Q: After I’m vaccinated do I have to wear a mask?
A: You should continue to wear a mask if you’ve gotten the vaccine.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) limits public transportation to 50% of posted seating capacity and all individuals must continue to wear well-fitting masks and practice physical distancing while in public. This guidance also applies to any shuttles, taxis, and hired transportation.
Pitkin County’s Public Health Order requires the use of face coverings in public settings.
CDPHE has released guidance for fully vaccinated people in private settings. Pitkin County does endorse CDPHE’s guidance but this guidance is for private settings only and does not apply to public indoor spaces or workplaces. You can review that guidance here. In order to limit the spread of variant cases, it is critical to continue to practice physical distancing, mask-wearing, and handwashing until the entire community receives vaccinations.
How To Safely Reuse A Cloth Mask
Is it safe to reuse a cloth mask? It’s not ideal, but cloth masks can be re-used throughout the day if not damaged, damp or dirty. But before you do, read these tips on how to safely reuse your cloth mask.
- After washing your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, remove your mask by pulling the ties or ear loops away from your ears.
- Fold the mask in half so that the outer surface is inwards (so that the contaminated outer surface is not contacting anything during storage).
- Place your mask in a clean, sealable bag (example: paper bag) until ready to use it again the same day. Do not leave a mask that has absorbed moisture from your breath in a non-breathable bag or container for more than an hour or so. Always store your mask in a clean place. Never store it in a purse or pocket.
- Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- To reapply the mask, first wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, then open the mask storage bag.
- Grasp the mask by the elastic ear loops to remove it from the bag, and put it back on over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.
- Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Wash your mask as soon as you are able.
Information Sourced from Ottawa Public Health “How do I wash, re-use, and discard a cloth mask?” & World Health Organization: “When and how to use masks.”
How to Properly Dispose of Nonmedical Masks
As the pandemic continues its course, it’s important to not lose sight of other pursuits that will aid in the development of the community and environment. Conducive to helping this progression, stay environmentally conscious and make it a priority to properly dispose of nonmedical, one-use masks if they are present and used in your household.
The reason behind discarding nonmedical one-use masks is the simple fact of ensuring the longevity of our environs and all that inhabit them. After disposing of daily waste, it is beyond anyone’s control, besides waste management companies, of what becomes of it. So, as a community it’s essential to complete the following steps for acceptable disposal of nonmedical one-use masks:
- Cut the ear loops of the mask
- This will make sure no animal gets tangled in the mask if it ends up in close contact with one
- Place it in a plastic bag to place in the trash
- Putting a used mask in a bag will reduce possible transmission of COVID-19
- Discard it into a recycle trash bin
- Check your local area for public recycling receptacles
It is easy to disregard these steps but over time the scraps of these masks will build up and perpetually contaminate surroundings and residents. Please take the extra minute to protect Mother Earth.