Indoor Mask Order
Senior woman and her adult daughter enjoying the outdoors together with masks on

Indoor Mask Order

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Universal Masking

To support the safety of all the community members, including children who are not eligible for vaccination, Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) issued Public Health Order 2021-08. The order, approved by Board of Health on Sept. 2, requires mask wearing in all indoor public spaces for all individuals 2 years and older regardless of vaccination status and went into effect on Friday, Sept. 3.

​Boulder County Public Health is following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) comprehensive data tracking system to determine transmission levels. The CDC’s system tracks COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, testing and other metrics to define four levels of community transmission (low, moderate, substantial/significant and high), based on the percentage of positive tests and the number of cases per 100,000 people. The County Level View displays this information for Boulder County.

View Boulder County’s current status.

As part of the mask order, Boulder County is offering the opportunity for businesses that have implemented vaccine requirements to have additional exceptions from the mask order upon receiving approval from Boulder county Public Health. View information on Fully Vaccinated Facilities.

Boulder County recommends wearing a surgical mask, N95, or KN95 when possible, though cloth masks that comply with CDC mask guidance meet the requirements of the order.

More information on proper mask usage.

While vaccines are known to be the most effective way to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 and symptomatic disease of COVID-19, masks are an important component of a layered mitigation strategy to prevent disease and get transmission under control in the community. Boulder County’s Mask Order implements the CDC’s July 27, 2021 recommendation that, regardless of vaccination status and due to the contagious nature of the Delta variant, all individuals age 2 and older should wear a face covering in public indoor spaces during periods of substantial and high transmission as defined by the CDC Tracker.

The order supports Boulder County Public Health’s goals in its COVID-19 response: preventing unnecessary deaths and significant illness, preserving our healthcare system capacity so that everyone can access timely healthcare for any reason whether illness, injury, or other reason, and safely returning to normal activities. By wearing our masks now we can achieve these goals and keep our businesses operating and healthcare system within capacity without further restrictions.

Boulder County Public Health strongly recommends businesses and venues maximize ventilation by opening doors, windows, running HVAC systems, or running air filters.

Boulder County Public Health also recommends moving activities outdoors whenever possible.

The CDC’s Data Tracker offers an analysis of the transmission rate of COVID-19 for every county in the United States and provides a risk rating of low, moderate, substantial/significant or high transmission.

Please visit Boulder County Current Status Page to see Boulder County’s current transmission status according to the CDC tracker and determine if masks are required in public indoor spaces.

Masks are required in indoor spaces during periods of substantial and high transmission.

If Boulder County is in substantial or high transmission status for five consecutive days, masks are required in public indoor spaces.

Once transmission decreases to moderate or low levels for 21 consecutive days, masks will no longer be required in public indoor spaces. However, individuals may still choose to wear them, and businesses may still implement policies requiring them.

Public Health Order 2021-08 requires that all individuals age two and older, regardless of vaccination status, wear a face covering in all public indoor spaces in Boulder County.

The Order applies only to public indoor spaces, such as event spaces, businesses, restaurants, gyms, government buildings and facilities, offices, and other spaces that are not considered an individual’s residence.

The Order does not apply to private homes, although Boulder County Public Health recommends wearing a face covering when around individuals from another household, particularly if at least one individual is not fully vaccinated.

Please note that Public Health Order 2021-07 requires masks for all individuals age two and older in schools, childcare and other youth-related indoor settings.

Masks are not required in any outdoor setting. However, individual businesses and organizers may implement requirements in addition to these orders, including outdoor masking. For more information on temporary or other structures outdoors, see CDPHE’s guidance for outdoor dining structures.

Masks are also not required in indoor spaces that verify proof of vaccination for all individuals entering the indoor space pursuant to the Vaccine Verification Program.

Public Health Order 2021-08 requires that all individuals age two and older wear a mask when Boulder County is in periods of substantial or high transmission as defined by the CDC’s transmission tracker and displayed on Boulder County Public Health’s status page.

Once Boulder County drops into moderate or low transmission for 21 consecutive days, the Order will automatically release the mask requirement in Boulder County, and masks will only be recommended.

If cases in Boulder County increase to high or substantial transmission for five consecutive days, the mask requirement will go into effect until transmission once again drops to moderate or low levels.

The CDC’s comprehensive data tracking system tracks cases, hospitalizations, testing and other metrics across the entire United States.

The CDC has defined four levels of community transmission (low, moderate, substantial/significant and high) based on the percentage of positive tests, as well as the number of cases per 100,000 people. The County Level view displays this information for Boulder County.

Public Health Order 2021-08 follows the CDC’s recommendation that all individuals age 2 and older should wear a face covering in all areas where transmission is substantial/significant or high.

Boulder County Public Health also tracks different metrics on the data page.

Boulder County Public Health’s mask order follows CDC guidance, which recommends masks in all areas during periods of substantial or high transmission.

During periods of substantial or high transmission, Boulder County’s healthcare systems may become stressed, resulting in reduced resources for all patients.

In addition to vaccines, increasing ventilation in indoor spaces, moving activities outdoors and masks provide protection for everyone.

Multiple studies have indicated that wearing a mask can reduce the wearers’ exposure to infectious droplets through filtration of fine droplets and particles less than 10 microns. For more information and studies, please see the CDC’s mask information website.

Under Public Health Order 2021-08, all individuals age 2 and older, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear a mask in all public indoor spaces during periods of substantial/significant and high transmission in Boulder County.

Individuals who cannot medically tolerate a face covering may be exempt from the Order in circumstances required by federal or state law due to a disability or other covered legal circumstance. Businesses should review the State’s Civil Rights Guidance and consult with an attorney as appropriate.

Individuals who are within an approved fully vaccinated facility or event may remove their mask. These facilities and events must receive approval from Boulder County Public Health and must require proof of vaccination for all individuals prior to entry. For more information, visit Boulder County Public Health’s Vaccine Verification Program page.

The order does not require any individual to obtain a vaccine; however, Boulder County Public Health strongly encourages all eligible individuals to obtain a vaccination as soon as possible. Community Immunity through vaccination is our fastest way to reduce cases and end this pandemic.

The order does offer businesses, facilities, and events that choose to implement a vaccination verification policy for their employees and guests the option of allowing removal of the mask for those individuals within their facility. This is a voluntary program that allows businesses to develop their own policies to encourage and require vaccinations while meeting their specific demographic, community, and business needs. More information is available here.

Please note, the order does not permit “proof of vaccination OR mask” policies. A business must require all individuals entering the facility or event to provide proof of vaccination. For more information, consult the Vaccine Verification Program page.

The Order does not require wearing a mask in any outdoor space; businesses and individuals should participate in activities with members of different households outside whenever possible.

The order does have limited exceptions for an individual to remove their mask while performing or participating in the following activities for the duration of that activity only:

  • Individuals who 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;
  • Individuals who are seated at a food service establishment or actively eating or drinking;
  • Individuals who are asked to temporarily remove their Face Covering for identification purposes in furtherance of a particular service requiring legal identification;
  • Individuals who are actively engaged in a public safety role such as law enforcement personnel, firefighters, or emergency medical personnel;
  • Individuals who are actively engaged in a performing arts performance, leading religious services, or engaged in other similar activities, so long as the individual maintains at least twelve (12) feet distance from non-household members indoors;
  • Individuals who are receiving a personal, religious, or medical service where the temporary removal of a Face Covering is necessary to perform the service;
  • Individuals who are alone in an enclosed room or only with members of their same household in an enclosed room;
  • Individuals who are in a swimming pool and actively engaged in a pool activity in which their Face Covering might become wet;
  • Individuals participating in certain indoor sports activities as permitted by Boulder County Public Health’s sports guidance;

Activities

An exemption applies to a person.

An exception applies to a temporary activity.

Public Health Order 2021-08 contains only two exemptions:

  • Individuals under the age of 2
  • Those who cannot medically tolerate a face covering

The latter exemption allows businesses and facilities to allow individuals to enter their facility without a mask when required by state or federal laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The exceptions are activity-based and listed. Any individual may qualify for an exception while performing the activity described by the exception.

Individuals actively engaged in performing arts, performing religious ceremonies, or engaged in other similar activities may remove their masks while performing provided that they maintain twelve feet of distance from non-household members. If possible, these activities should be performed with windows or doors open, HVAC ventilation running, or air filters in place. Alternatively, such activities may take place outside without any mask requirements. If conducting a performance indoors with a mask on, there are no distancing requirements.

Performing arts groups, events, and theaters, houses of worship, and other facilities and events may apply to be a vaccine-verified facility or event through the Vaccine Verification Program and receive additional exception from the mask order. Please note that fully vaccinated facilities do not have any distancing requirements for performers or audience members.

In the event that the performance cannot be conducted with 12 feet of spacing between non-household members (for example, a ballet performance), cannot be conducted with a mask on, and the performance has not yet applied to become a vaccine verifying event, please email covidbiz@bouldercounty.org to determine appropriate options. Unless a facility or event is approved under the vaccine verification program, all individuals are required to comply with the 12 feet from non-household members requirement while unmasked pursuant to the performer exception unless otherwise explicitly indicated by Boulder County Public Health.

Temporary removal of a mask is permitted while receiving personal, medical or religious services that cannot otherwise be performed with a mask.

Personal services include, for example, barber and esthetician services that cannot be performed with a mask. The person performing the service should wear a mask unless another exception or exemption applies.

The order does not require wearing a mask in any outdoor space. Whenever possible, businesses and individuals should participate in activities with members of different households outside.

The order does have limited exceptions for individuals to remove their mask while performing or participating in the following activities for the duration of that activity only:

  • Individuals who 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 their mouth is essential to communication;
  • Individuals who are seated seated at a food service establishment OR actively eating or drinking
  • Individuals who are asked to temporarily remove their face covering for identification purposes in furtherance of a particular service requiring legal identification;
  • Individuals who are actively engaged in a public safety role such as law enforcement personnel, firefighters, or emergency medical personnel;
  • Individuals who are actively engaged in a performing arts performance, leading religious services, or other similar activities, so long as the individual maintains at least twelve (12) feet distance from non-household members indoors;
  • Individuals who are receiving a personal, religious, or medical service where the temporary removal of a face covering is necessary to perform the service;
  • Individuals who are alone in an enclosed room or only with members of their same household in an enclosed room;
  • Individuals who are in a swimming pool and actively engaged in a pool activity in which their face covering might become wet; and
  • Individuals participating in certain indoor sports activities as permitted by Boulder County Public Health’s sports guidance.

Requirements for Businesses

This order requires masks in all public indoor spaces, including offices, restaurants, manufacturing, gyms, sports facilities, recreation centers, retail stores, hair salons, bars, government buildings, and any indoor space that is not a private residence. The order also applies to common areas of apartments buildings and dormitories.

The order does not apply to outdoor spaces and it does not apply to private residences.

Businesses and owners and operators of public indoor spaces should post signs at their entrances indicating that a mask is required for all individuals age 2 and older in order to enter. Businesses should deny entry to all individuals who do not comply with the requirements of the order.

Businesses may direct questions to COVIDbiz@bouldercounty.org.

An individual who cannot medically tolerate a face covering may be permitted to remove his or her mask, as determined by the business or facility, in the event that the business must permit the individual to enter the facility as required by the American with Disabilities Act or other similar state or federal law. The order does not contain a blanket “medical exemption”, and each situation must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the business, ideally in consultation with legal counsel.

Businesses should consult with legal counsel to determine to determine appropriate accommodations for an individual who cannot medically tolerate a face covering. Because individuals who cannot medically tolerate a face covering may have another disability, an accommodation other than entry into the facility without a mask may be more appropriate. The exemption permits businesses to allow an individual to enter a facility without a mask in order to comply with federal and state laws such as the American with Disabilities Act, when required. Whether a business or facility can (or should) request or require a doctor’s note depends upon the laws applicable to the business and businesses and facilities should consult with legal counsel about their specific circumstances.

Businesses are required to deny individuals entry for failure to wear a mask unless one of the exemptions or exceptions applies. Businesses are encouraged to consult with legal counsel and review the State’ Civil Rights Guidance and determine their obligations under the American with Disabilities Act and other federal and state laws.

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