Denver and other counties to drop ‘mask or vax’ requirement for businesses on Friday
DENVER — People will no longer be required to wear masks or show proof of vaccinations to enter Denver businesses starting Friday, although the mask requirement will continue for schools and daycares, it said Monday Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
The mayor said the current public health order will expire on Friday and will not be renewed at this time. However, he and Denver Department of Public Health and Environmental Executive Director Bob McDonald said masks will continue to be required in schools and daycares.
The continued requirement for people to wear masks in schools allows schools to remain open for in-person learning and for students and staff to operate “in the safest way possible,” Hancock said.
Denver will drop the “mask or vax” requirement for businesses on Friday; still compulsory in schools
Private businesses can also continue to require people to wear masks indoors or require proof of vaccinations from customers and visitors, Hancock said.
“We are at a very important pivot point in this battle,” Hancock said.
More than 78% of Denver residents were fully vaccinated as of Monday, and the mayor said the virus will be something “we’re going to have to deal with and learn to live with.”
“This is still a public health emergency and will remain so as long as there are spikes, surges and swings that threaten to overwhelm health systems,” Hancock said.
McDonald said state modeling indicates that lifting the face covering requirement this week would have “little change” to the trajectory of the number of cases and hospitalizations in Denver and the metro area, which have fallen sharply in recent weeks.
“As a city, we have repeatedly taken action to protect each other and save lives, and we are grateful to all Denver residents who have done their part to comply with past public health orders. “McDonald said. “We are confident that our residents will continue to make the right healthcare decisions.”
As of Jan. 10 in Denver, there was a 7-day average case rate of 1,998 cases per 100,000 of COVID-19. That number fell to 588 per 100,000 as of January 29 and continues to drop from Monday, McDonald said.
He said it was clear that the metro-wide decision to require indoor masks or passports for vaccines certainly had an effect on the modeling seen in November, which indicated that if these requirements do not were not in place, the capacity of the hospital could have been breached. This was not despite a near-record number of cases and hospitalizations.
“Omicron is running out of fuel within our community,” McDonald said, adding that between vaccination and booster levels in Denver, and infection levels of the omicron variant, indicated this week would be a sure to lift the requirements. .
They said people should always be diligent – especially if they are not vaccinated, either because of a weakened immune system or because people have chosen not to be.
“That means the data is telling us, the modeling is telling us, it’s OK to remove the mask requirement from Friday,” Hancock said.
McDonald said the school requirement would continue because not all children can be vaccinated and because of state guidelines regarding quarantines.
“We have to look at state guidelines and policy, and if we lift this policy for schools, there’s a possibility that children will be pulled from schools,” McDonald said.
Ball Arena will still require those ages 12 and older to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated or have tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of the event. Anyone 2 years and older will still be required to wear a mask inside and in all admission lines.
The Denver Center for the Performing Arts will continue to require people to show proof of a vaccine unless they are under age 5, in which case they will need a negative test within 72 hours of the event. . Or it could include a negative rapid test within 6 hours of the performance start time.
Regarding possible future variants, McDonald and Hancock said they would do whatever it takes to respond. McDonald noted that Hancock had been the first in the state to implement numerous mandates throughout the pandemic and would not hesitate to move in the future.
Mask requirements will also continue for transport as RTDs under federal rules, and people who work with high-risk individuals, such as those in long-term care facilities, will continue to be required to wear them as well, said Hancock.
Last Friday, Elizabeth Carlton, an associate professor at the Colorado School of Public Health and a member of the Colorado COVID modeling team, said the latest model estimates that about 75% of Coloradans are currently immune to omicron due to the vaccines and infections, and the modeling team expects this level to reach 80% in the coming weeks.
Other counties to lift, also consider lifting requirements
Larimer County also announced Monday afternoon that it will be lifting its public health order requiring indoor masks on Saturday, February 12.
“This schedule will allow the omicron wave to recede further and give families, local businesses and schools time to prepare for the transition,” said Kori Wilford, MPH, acting supervisor of community relations and public information for the Larimer County Health Department. and Environment.
The Tri-County Health Department is extending the current public health order through Feb. 4, but the council will meet Monday afternoon to consider whether or not to drop its requirement as well. Nearly every county in the Denver metro area has acted in concert on COVID-19 precautions and public health orders.
Jefferson County Public Health said its board would meet Thursday to determine whether or not to lift the mask requirement there.
McDonald said he has contacted the other public health directors in the metro area and said they will make their own announcements.
“Make no mistake, we are in very close communication regionally,” he said.
Dr. Dylan Luyten, medical director of the Swedish Medical Center’s emergency services, said on Monday that the number of cases and hospitalizations continued to fall, which he said was good news.
“The reality is that, as has always been the case, things are continually changing. And I think we still have to adapt to the kind of conditions that are present. The good news about the current omicron variant is that for fully vaccinated and boosted people, the morbidity and risk is very, very low,” Luyten said. “That is not the case, however. Zero. … You have to consider the relative risk. For immunocompromised people, for people with chronic lung disease or heart disease, the risk of infection is always real.
Luyten said it would be “cautious” to consider continuing to wear masks in and around people – especially for those most vulnerable to serious infections.
“On the other hand, I think people should see it (drop the requirements) for what it is, which is good news,” Luyten said. “We seem to be moving out of this phase of the pandemic and into a more endemic phase, which means the infection is still present. Thank goodness we have fairly widespread vaccination in Colorado, and fully vaccinated people have an extremely low risk of becoming seriously ill from omicron.
CB Cotton of Denver7 contributed to this report.
This is news in development and will be updated.