Guidance for wearing masks

 

 

 

 

 

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A mandatory mask-wearing requirement for Colorado went into effect in July 2020 and recently was extended under Executive Order D 2020-190 on September 12, 2020 for 30 days to October 12, 2020. It may be extended if necessary.

Fast facts

The order requires people in Colorado who are 11 years and older to wear a covering over their noses and mouths:

  • 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.

People who do not have to wear a mask include:

  • People who are 10 years old and younger.
  • People who cannot medically tolerate a face covering.
  • Children ages 2 and under should NOT wear masks or cloth face coverings.

Research shows that people who have no symptoms can spread COVID-19. Wearing a non-medical face mask helps minimize the spread of the virus. Instructions for making homemade masks can be found at the Colorado Mask Project.

What is the most recent science behind universal mask-wearing?

Masks should:

  • Be clean and in good repair.
  • Fit snugly, but comfortably against the side of the face.
  • Be secure.
  • Include multiple layers of fabric.
  • Allow for breathing without restriction.
  • Be able to be laundered and machine dried.
  • Be on the wearer's face.
  • Be laundered on a daily basis.

Masks should not:

  • Have anything hanging off the facial covering that would create a food safety hazard.
  • Have holes or tears. 
  • Masks should not be shared with others.
Icon of person wearing a mask

Other tips:
  • Wash your hands before and after putting a facial covering in place.

  • Do not touch the facial covering again until you remove it.

  • Masks should be positioned so that there is no need to adjust or otherwise touch the face frequently.

  • If your mask becomes soiled or hard to breathe through, you should remove and not wear again until laundered.

  • Remove your mask to eat and drink and if it is still in good repair, you may continue to use it for the duration of your shift.

  • Store your mask with your personal items.

For businesses

Sign with two people wearing masks. Says that Mask required to enter per state order.

Mask required sign (8.5 x 11) Blue   | Red      

(Spanish) Letrero de tapabocas obligatorios (8.5 x 11) Azul   | Rojo  

ABOUT THE EXECUTIVE ORDER

Questions & answers about the statewide mandatory mask order (PDF)

Includes questions and answers about masks in schools.

  • Executive Order D 2020 138 requires all people in Colorado over ten (10) years old to wear a face-covering over their noses and mouths:
    • 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.
  • People do not need to wear a mask when they are:
    • Hearing-impaired or otherwise disabled or who are communicating with someone who is hearing-impaired or otherwise disabled and where the ability to see the mouth is essential to communication.
    • Seated at a food service establishment.
    • Exercising alone or with others from the individual’s household, and a face covering would interfere with the activity.
    • Receiving a personal service where the temporary removal of the face-covering is necessary to perform the service.
    • Entering a business or receiving services and are asked to temporarily remove a face covering for identification purposes.
    • Are actively engaged in a public safety role such as law enforcement, firefighters, or emergency medical personnel.
    • Officiating at a religious service or life-rite event.
    • Giving a speech for broadcast or an audience, if the audience is at least 25 feet away from the speaker. The audience members must wear face coverings.
       

  • A mandatory mask-wearing requirement for Colorado went into effect in July 2020 and recently was extended under Executive Order D 2020-190 on September 12, 2020 for 30 days to October 12, 2020. It may be extended if necessary.

  • For the mask order, “public indoor space” means a publicly or privately owned, managed, or operated,  enclosed indoor area that is accessible to the public, is a place of employment or is an entity that provides services. Public indoor space does not mean a person’s residence, including a room in a motel or hotel or a residential room for students at an educational facility. Public indoor spaces include but are not limited to: 
    • Government buildings.
    • Nonprofits.
    • Transportation.
    • Houses of worship.
    • Private country clubs or social clubs.
    • Grocery stores.
    • Hair salons.
    • All offices, lobbies, elevators.
    • Malls, retail stores.
    • Indoor businesses, common areas.
    • Medical facilities, nursing homes.
    • Restaurants (if not seated).
    • Libraries.
    • Museums.
    • Theaters.
    • Casinos.
    • Gyms, including areas around indoor pools, but not while swimming in the pool.
    • If a business or entity provides services or goods both indoors and outdoors at a single location, a mask must be worn in the indoor portion of that business or entity.
    • All enclosed indoor areas, whether publicly or privately owned or managed, except an individual’s residence.

  • Yes, executive orders and public health orders have the force of law. People who do not comply with the executive order may be subject to civil or criminal penalties.

  • The governor and state public health officials know masks are one of the most effective tools we currently have to limit the spread of COVID-19, but orders are often best issued and enforced at the local level. While more than thirty-nine (39) Colorado cities and counties have mask orders, others do not. A statewide order helps eliminate confusion and makes mask requirements more consistent across the state.
  • Many business owners asked for this statewide order because it eliminates inconsistency for patrons from different counties. The executive order requires businesses to refuse service to customers who are not wearing masks, which in turn will help slow the spread of the virus and ensure businesses can remain open with precautions during the pandemic.

  • Children 10 years and younger are not required to wear masks because the evidence so far has shown that children in this age group are much less likely to spread COVID-19 than older children and adults. It is also less likely that children of this age will wear a mask correctly.

  • The order applies to people in Colorado over 10 years old when they are in a public indoor space or when they are waiting for or using public transportation or ride-shares.

  • People who are 10 years old and younger.
  • People who cannot medically tolerate a face covering.
  • Children ages 2 and under should NOT wear masks or cloth face coverings.

  • Essentially, this means a person who has trouble breathing or anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face-covering without assistance, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read more from the CDC about other reasons face coverings may not be possible in every situation or for some people. 

  • You do not need a written exemption.
  • You may tell the establishment that you cannot medically tolerate a mask. But please be aware that if you cannot medically tolerate a mask, you should consider limiting any visits to businesses to protect yourself and others. If you need help getting groceries or other necessities, you can call 211 to be connected to local resources that may be able to help you.
  • Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, businesses may offer reasonable accommodations for individuals with medical disabilities that make it so that they can’t wear a mask. This could include offering delivery or call-ahead curbside pickup instead of allowing entry into the building. More information.
    • The CDC recommends businesses post a sign outside that says “Masks Required” and provide a phone number and email address for someone to contact should they be unable to use a mask.

ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS

  • The executive order does not state that you must wear a mask outdoors unless you are waiting on public or non-personal transportation.
  • However, it is best to wear a mask whenever you cannot keep a safe distance (at least 6 feet) from other people. We encourage you to wear a mask whenever you are in crowded spaces, either indoors or out.

  • Yes, you must wear a mask when entering any kind of store.

  • Yes, you must wear a mask when entering or exiting a restaurant. You may take the mask off when you are seated but must put it back on when you stand up to use the restroom or to leave.

  • Yes, this applies to any indoor setting open to members of the public. If there are specific religious spaces where members of the public are not allowed, such as spaces only accessible by clergy, then this does not apply to those limited settings.
  • Clergy are not required to wear face coverings while officiating at a religious service.

  • No, masks may be removed if they would interfere with the performance of a life-rite ceremony. If they do not interfere with the ceremony, they should continue to be worn. For example, if parties to a marriage need to speak vows to an audience, they may remove their masks.

  • You may remove your mask if delivering a speech to an audience. Please put your mask back on as soon as you are able. If you remove your mask to deliver a speech, please note that we ask performers to be 25 feet away from the audience.

  • Unless it interferes with the integrity of the proceedings, mask-wearing is required. However, we recognize that the judicial branch is independent of the executive branch and may need to propose rules specific to trials (e.g., witnesses) that are reasonable and may require temporary removal of a mask. Judges are permitted to set rules for both their courthouse and individual trials.

SPORTS AND RECREATION

  • Mask-wearing requirements apply to everyone indoors, including people exercising. If you are in an indoor room with other patrons who are not a part of your household, then you need to wear a mask. You may remove it temporarily if you need to catch your breath or safely perform an activity, but wear a mask as much as feasible.

  • Masks should be worn while playing indoor sports unless it interferes with the activity. You may remove the mask temporarily to catch your breath if needed, or if you can’t wear appropriate safety equipment while wearing the mask. Wear a mask as much as feasible.

  • You should take your mask off while swimming in the pool, but you must put it back on while you are not swimming but in the pool area.

  • Lifeguards may remove their mask if they need to do so in order to safely perform an activity.

ENFORCEMENT

  • If you refuse to wear a mask as required in the executive order, you are violating a Colorado law and may be subject to civil or criminal penalties. You may also be in violation of county or municipal ordinances and subject to a ticket and/or fine.
  • If you are asked to leave a store due to failure to wear a mask, and you refuse, you may be charged with trespassing.

A licensed business is at risk of losing its license.

  • Businesses should refuse service to individuals not wearing masks. If a patron becomes combative or refuses to leave, contact local law enforcement, who can help diffuse the situation or intervene if the individual fails to comply.

IN THE WORKPLACE

  • What if I’m alone in my office with the door closed? 
    • If you are the only person in a room with the door closed, then you may remove your mask. If someone else enters the room, please put your mask back on. You must wear a mask in common areas like hallways, elevators, or breakrooms.
  • Sitting at my cubicle spaced 6 feet away from my closest neighbor? 
    • You must wear a mask in any shared, indoor space that accommodates people outside your household. This includes spaces divided by physically distanced cubicles. We require masks in such settings because Colorado has recently experienced outbreaks in indoor, office-based settings. We continue to encourage employers to prioritize work from home. 
  • In the elevator? Break room? Hallway?
    • You must wear a mask in common areas like hallways, elevators, or breakrooms. If a common space is used for consuming meals (i.e., break rooms), follow restaurant guidance for that setting. 

  • The executive order states indoor businesses must refuse service to people who are not wearing masks. 
  • Businesses must post signs at entrances that instruct customers they must wear a mask when entering or moving around inside the business. 
    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adding a phone number and email address people unable to use a mask can contact. This will reduce the potential that an employee will have to manage a situation with an uncooperative, un-masked person.
  • Businesses should consider implementing alternatives to in-person service, such as curbside pick-up, contactless delivery, or assistance with services/products available online.

  • No. Plexiglass barriers may not substitute for face coverings. They may provide an added benefit, but cannot be used as a substitute.

AT SCHOOL

  • We encourage cloth face coverings over the nose and mouth for students 3 to 10 years old, including during in-person instruction (including sitting at desks), unless the student has a medical intolerance, disability, or education reason for not wearing a mask.
  • Cloth face coverings over the nose and mouth are required for students ages 11 years and older, including during in-person instruction (including sitting at desks), unless the student has a medical intolerance, disability, or education reason for not wearing a mask.
     

  • Staff and students do not need to wear masks or face coverings while eating, but they should continue to social distance. 
  • Students ages 3-10: The executive order does not require masks for this age group. If local orders require masks for this age group, check the local order for clarification on requirements in educational settings. 
  • Students ages 11 and older: A mask is not required while outside for recess or exercise, as long as 6 feet of distancing can be maintained. 
  • Masks may be temporarily removed if they interfere with special educational needs, such as hearing impaired students and for English learners.  
  • Masks should be removed during naptime.
     

  • Parents are encouraged to work with their school health services team or COVID-19 school coordinator to discuss their child’s medical needs.

  • The requirement to wear a mask does not apply to individuals who cannot medically tolerate a face covering. In general, this means a person who has trouble breathing or who is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. Parents are encouraged to work directly with their child’s medical provider to determine the health needs of their child in the school setting. 

  • The process used to verify “medical intolerance” is determined at the school or school district level. Parents are encouraged to work with their school health services team or COVID-19 school coordinator to discuss their child’s medical needs. 

  • Schools are encouraged to establish a process for communicating essential information to school staff while maintaining confidentiality. 

  • It is becoming increasingly evident that masks are an inexpensive and easy way to limit disease spread. Together, masks and distancing offer a greater measure of protection. We strongly encourage all people in Colorado to practice the Big 3: Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance.
  • However, it is possible to spread or be exposed to COVID-19 even while wearing a mask.
  • Face coverings are most important when distancing is difficult. People who are unable to wear a face-covering should take other measures to reduce their risk, including distancing, frequent hand washing, and disinfecting surfaces.
  • When distancing, people tend to speak louder to project their voices further, yet another reason why masks and distancing work together for the best protection.
     

  • Students are together for long periods of time at school, and the science is evolving on how masks protect people. As we learn more about the virus, it is best to use and layer all the tools available to protect people: social distancing, mask use, and isolation and quarantine.
  • While masks do not factor into the determination of close contacts, we are studying their effects closely to determine if that may change sometime in the future.

  • Cloth face coverings over the nose and mouth are required for students ages 11 years and older, including during in-person instruction (including sitting at desks), unless the student has a medical intolerance, disability, or education reason for not wearing a mask.
  • If a school or school district is not abiding by these requirements, a parent or community member should contact the county local public health authority.

LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

  • Counties that are certified for Protect Our Neighbors status may choose to be exempt from the statewide mask order.

  • Yes, counties and municipalities can adopt stricter standards than the statewide order.

Your local public health agency is a good source of information for orders within your county.

  • Unless it interferes with the integrity of the proceedings, mask-wearing is required. However, we recognize that the judicial branch is independent of the executive branch and may need to propose rules specific to trials (e.g., witnesses) that are reasonable and may require temporary removal of a mask. Judges are permitted to set rules for both their courthouse and individual trials.

MASK BASICS

  • You should wear something that covers your nose and mouth --  a cloth face covering or a disposable mask.
  • Masks should be comprised of multiple layers of fabric or material. A mask might be too thin or porous if you can easily feel your breath in front of you (or can easily blow out a candle) while wearing it, or if you can easily see through it when stretched. Masks with exhalation vents should not be used as infectious droplets can be exhaled.
  • The best mask for you is one you can wear comfortably and consistently. Any mask or face-covering that covers the nose and mouth will work.
  • We recommend that the wearer be able to remove and put on their own mask without assistance.
  • We encourage you to use cloth face coverings to preserve medical mask supplies for health care and other essential workers.

  • No, a face shield is not an acceptable substitute for a cloth or disposable face covering.

  • Masks and face-coverings are interchangeable terms. Cloth masks or face coverings or disposable masks are acceptable as long as they cover the nose and mouth.
  • People may wear surgical or other, more protective masks, but we encourage people to use cloth face coverings to preserve medical masks for health care and other essential workers.
  • While at work, people should wear masks appropriate to the business in which they work.

  • It is becoming increasingly evident that masks are an inexpensive and easy way to limit disease spread. Together, masks and distancing offer a greater measure of protection. We strongly encourage all people in Colorado to practice the Big 3: Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance.
  • Face coverings are most important when distancing is difficult. People who are unable to wear a face-covering should take other measures to reduce their risk, including distancing, frequent hand washing, and disinfecting surfaces.
  • When distancing, people tend to speak louder to project their voices further, yet another reason why masks and distancing work together for the best protection.

  • Face coverings should:
    • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face.
    • Be secured with ties or ear loops.
    • Include multiple layers of fabric.
    • Allow for breathing without restriction.
    • Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.
    • Cover your nose and mouth. Wearing them under your nose or chin is ineffective. 

  • Wash your cloth mask regularly with your regular laundry.

  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth when putting on and taking off your face covering. Hold the mask by the corners and avoid touching the front or back of it. Wash your hands before putting your mask on and right after you remove it. 

  • The CDC and CDPHE web pages are excellent resources.

  • According to the Mayo Clinic Health System, “for many years, health care providers have worn masks for extended periods of time with no adverse health reactions ... there is no risk of hypoxia, which is lower oxygen levels, in healthy adults. Carbon dioxide will freely diffuse through your mask as you breathe.”

Science of universal mask-wearing