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Larimer County issues public health order requiring anyone over 2 to wear masks in businesses

Sarah Kyle
Fort Collins Coloradoan
Published 8:23 PM EDT May 3, 2020

No mask, no service. 

Larimer County’s health department issued Sunday a public health order requiring all employees and customers to wear face coverings when entering and inside businesses within the county to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The requirement isn’t entirely new, as Larimer County health officials had already issued guidelines requiring masks for customers and employees at businesses reopening under safer-at-home. But those requirements didn’t encompass essential businesses, which were already open during the stay-at-home order, and they weren’t a formal public health order, health department spokesperson Katie O’Donnell said Sunday. 

O’Donnell wrote in an email to the Coloradoan that Larimer County Public Health is “hearing that people are refusing to go into businesses that require face coverings.”

“We wanted to make sure that those that were following the guidance and taking this seriously were not unfairly retaliated against,” O’Donnell wrote. “We hope making it a requirement like this will help that.”

The public health order applies to all employees interacting with the public or other employees as well as anyone over 2 years old entering or in line to enter a business. 

Businesses are defined as, but not limited to: 

The county reiterated that those with underlying health conditions should continue to stay at home during safer-at-home due to their increased risk of contracting COVID-19.

The public health order follows Fort Collins City Manager Darin Atteberry’s emergency order requiring face coverings in Fort Collins buildings open to the public. Atteberry’s order, signed Friday after it was discussed and unanimously supported by members in last week’s City Council meeting, goes into effect Monday.

However, the county’s public health order is more stringent than Atteberry’s order in some ways — Atteberry’s order, for example, exempts anyone under the age of 10 years old, whereas the county’s order applies to anyone over the age of 2.

Tracking Coronavirus in Colorado: The latest confirmed cases, updates

Local municipalities do have the authority to issue more strict face covering requirements than the county, according to Sunday’s news release, and O’Donnell said residents should follow whichever requirements are more stringent.

“Our businesses have done a great job keeping their employees in face coverings to protect customers,” Larimer County’s public health director Tom Gonzales said in the release. “But we need our customers to also be protecting the employees. Face coverings are not perfect, but paired with social distancing, we know they slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Need mask inspiration? Check out these photos:

Editor’s note: As the coronavirus outbreak continues to evolve, we don’t want you to panic. In fact, quite the opposite. That’s why the Coloradoan is committed to providing you with accurate, up-to-date information so you can make informed decisions on issues affecting you and the people you love. As such, this story, and many others, are being provided free for all to read. Help us continue this important work by subscribing to the Coloradoan.

Sarah Kyle is a content coach at the Coloradoan. Contact her at

This content was originally published here.