Longmont’s city manager would get the authority to order people to wear face coverings and other personal protective equipment during a locally declared emergency, under an ordinance up for public hearing and a final City Council vote Tuesday night.
Since May 9, a Boulder County Board of Health COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic response order has required businesses, the employees of those businesses and anyone else older than age 12 wear a face covering when in public anywhere in Boulder County where people cannot maintain a 6-foot social distance from one another.
Longmont City Council had already directed city staff on April 28 to draft a municipal ordinance requiring Longmont residents to wear masks while in public spaces and retail businesses.
Council members voted 6-1 on May 5 to give initial approval to that ordinance, which Longmont could apply to businesses and residents in the Weld County portion of the city as well as in Boulder County.
That, staff wrote in a memo for the May 5 council meeting, “would provide the ability toevaluate options to protect the entire Longmont community.”
The ordinance would amend an existing provision in the Longmont Municipal Code’s section about the city manager’s powers to issue orders during a locally declared disaster or emergency order.
It would define “personal protective equipment” as “equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that can cause serious injuries and illnesses” that “may result from contact with biological, chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other similar hazards.”
It doesn’t specifically name masks or other facial coverings but says personal protective equipment “includes, but is not limited to, gloves, safety glasses and shoes, earplugs or muffs, hard hats, respirators, or coveralls, vests and full body suits.”
City code already makes it illegal to disobey Longmont disaster or emergency orders. The code provides that anyone convicted of such a violation could be fined up to $999, or ordered to spend up to 180 days in jail, or sentenced to pay a fine and serve time in jail. The proposed ordinance does provide for any additional fine or punishment.
If the emergency personal protective equipment measure gets at least six council members’ votes Tuesday night, it will take effect May 27.
Boulder County Public Health’s countywide order defines “face covering” as a covering made of cloth, fabric, or other soft or permeable material, without holes, that covers only the nose and mouth and surrounding areas of the lower face. They may be factory-made or handmade and improvised using ordinary household materials.
The county order has exceptions, including for people working alone in an office, anyone whose health would be negatively impacted by wearing a face covering, children aged 12 years and younger, and first responders under certain circumstances.
Failing to comply with Boulder County Public Health’s order, currently set to expire May 26 unless extended before then, carries a potential fine of up to $5,000 and imprisonment in the county jail of up to one year.
On Saturday, Gov. Jared Polis ordered that workers at Colorado’s essential businesses and critical government jobs must continue to wear masks at work until at least June 15.
Several other Boulder County municpalities have also passed their own local face covering policies and rules even though their communities, like Longmont, are also supposed to be following Boulder County Public Health’s countywide order. They include:
- Boulder’s City Council voted April 28 to require customers and employees of certain “critical businesses” to wear facial coverings when inside those businesses’ buildings.
- Superior announced May 1 that effective May 4, people had to wear face coverings when patronizing or working at local businesses.
- Louisville’s whose City Council voted May 5 for an emergency ordinance requiring people to wear face coverings in public places.
- Lafayette’s City Council voted May 14 for an emergency resolution that requires customers and employees at businesses and places of public accommodation to wear face coverings.
On May 4, Erie Mayor Jennifer Carroll extended the Boulder County Public Health face coverings order to the entire town, including that part of Erie that’s in Weld County, effective May 9.
Broomfield’s City Council, acting as the Broomfield Board of Public Health, passed a resolution May 12 that strongly advises, but does not mandate, residents to wear masks or face coverings in public.
If you watch
What: Longmont City Council regular meeting
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Council and city staff members will participate from remote locations, and members of the general public cannot attend the meeting in person. However, council meetings are live-streamed and can be viewed on the city’s YouTube channel — youtube.com/user/cityoflongmont — or on LongmontPublicMedia.org, or on Longmont cable TV subscribers’ Comcast Xfinity Channel 8/880HD.
Public comment opportunities: Longmont will display and announce information during the live streaming of the virtual meeting to tell the public how and when to call in if people want to comment about any issue. Comments are limited to three minutes per person, during the public-invited-to-be-heard items on the agenda.