Colorado Issues Mask Order for Public Indoor Spaces, Including Places of Employment

Joseph Hunt

In response to the rising number of cases of COVID-19, Governor Polis issued an Executive Order requiring everyone in Colorado over ten years old to wear a mask when “entering or moving within any Public Indoor Space,” as well as when using or waiting to use public transportation or ride-sharing services. The Executive Order is immediately in effect for 30 days.

“Public Indoor Space” is defined broadly to include any enclosed indoor area, which is publicly or privately owned, to which individuals have access by right or invitation. It includes enclosed indoor space serving as a place of employment and covers indoor stores, businesses, common areas, offices, lobbies, and elevators. Consequently, employers should immediately mandate that their employees, contractors, customers, and anyone else within their indoor space wear masks.

While the Executive Order itself is limited to “entering and moving” within indoor spaces, we caution employers from interpreting that phrase too literally. Indeed, guidance issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment goes further to provide that anyone “in” a Public Indoor Space must wear a mask.

Employers must post signs at entrances instructing individuals of their obligations under the Executive Order to wear a mask when entering, and at all times moving within, a Public Indoor Space. Indoor businesses must refuse to provide service to anyone not wearing a mask. The penalties for failure to comply could include loss of a business license and civil / criminal penalties, including for trespass.

The Executive Order does not require individuals to wear a mask when seated at a restaurant, exercising alone, performing a public safety role, receiving personal service where the temporary removal of the mask is necessary, officiating at a religious service, giving a speech to an audience, or when required to remove a mask for identification purposes. It also exempts individuals who cannot medically tolerate a mask or who are hearing impaired and need to see the mouth when communicating. Keep in mind: Retaliation against any employee for raising concerns about workplace health and safety or compliance with the Executive Order is prohibited.