Wearing face coverings in public when social distancing isn’t possible can reduce the spread of coronavirus.
After approval of a Public Health “Facial Covering” Order by the Boulder County Board of Health over the weekend, beginning May 9, every person older than 12 years old will be required to wear a face covering when in public anywhere in Boulder County where social distancing of 6 feet cannot be maintained.
“Although the science varies, most public health experts agree wearing facial coverings in public as social distancing restrictions are eased can help us further reduce the spread of COVID-19 that we’ve achieved by staying at home,” said Bill Hayes, Boulder County Public Health COVID response safety officer. “Facial coverings are not a panacea, however. They must be worn properly to be effective, and they should not be a reason to reduce social distancing.”
The order does include exceptions, including for people working alone in an office, anyone whose health would be negatively impacted by wearing a face covering, children aged 12 years and younger, and first responders under certain circumstances (CDPHE Order 20-26 requires first responders to wear Face Coverings).
The Order defines “face covering” as a covering made of cloth, fabric, or other soft or permeable material, without holes, that covers only the nose and mouth and surrounding areas of the lower face. They may be factory-made or handmade and improvised using ordinary household materials.
“A facial covering mandate can work in concert with reduced social distancing restrictions under the Safer-At-Home phase,” said Jeff Zayach, Boulder County Public Health executive director. “Face coverings are another tool that will help us to reduce the spread of the virus as we begin to lift more restrictions along with maintaining social distancing to avoid exposing our most vulnerable residents and prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed.”
Facial coverings can reduce the spread of droplets from the wearer to others. They do not protect the wearer from others. This, in addition to maintaining at least 6 feet distance between others are steps we can all take to help assure our businesses remain open and that we prevent the further spread of this awful disease in our communities. Everyone must still wash their hands, not touch their faces, stay home if their sick, cough into a tissue and discard, and regularly clean high-touch surfaces.
Details of the Public Health Facial Covering Order are available at www.boco.org/covid-19. While fines and penalties can be assessed for not following a public health order, enforcement will rely on education and individual responsibility for the good of the community as a whole.
“There have been reports of discrimination associated with mask wearing. It’s important to remember that we are all affected by this virus and there is simply no place for discrimination. We can and will solve this problem together,” said Zayach.