Should Vail lift outdoor mask mandate soon? |

Should Vail lift outdoor mask mandate soon?

Outdoor requirement was a response to fall spike in cases

Vail has required people to wear face coverings in outdoor areas of the resort villages since early November 2020.
Scott N. Miller/

Vail officials in early November imposed an outdoor mask mandate for the resort areas of town. Is it time to let go of that rule?

Vail’s mandate — which followed the lead of other resort communities — came during a fall spike in cases of the COVID-19 virus. At the time, Vail Town Coucil member Kevin Foley spoke to fears that public health orders could virtually shut down the resort. “If we’re shut down, we’re not viable,” Foley said at the time.

While public health orders still require masks indoors at businesses, with spring in the air and the end of the ski season looming, some in town believe the outdoor mandate should be lifted.

The mandate “served its purpose during the busy season,” Montauk and El Segundo owner Cameron Douglas said. But, he added, “there’s no evidence” of outdoor virus transmission, adding that the outdoor mandate may have been overly cautious.

The end of ski season — April 18 at Vail — is a good time to lift the outdoor mandate, Douglas said.

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“The end of ski season makes sense from everyone’s perspective,” Douglas said, adding that public confidence is increasing as more people receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Douglas said several people in Vail’s restaurant business are asking town officials to lift the outdoor mask mandate.

But others in town believe there’s still value in the mandate.

“I feel masks should be worn and mandated until a majority of people (are vaccinated),” Claggett Rey Gallery co-owner Maggie Rey said. “It just protects others, and shows you care.”

Rey added that people from out of state will come to Vail even after the ski season ends. Mask wearing “shows we care about each other,” she added.

Longtime Vail resident Merv Lapin lives on Meadow Drive. As such, he sees visitors pass by his home every day. Many of those people aren’t wearing masks, and there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of enforcement, he said.

Lapin said he favors continuing the outdoor mandate, particularly because so many visitors are from out of state or out of the country.

COVID-19 “is going to be with us in one form or another” for a long time, Lapin added. The way to cut transmission is mask-wearing, hand-washing and other practices, he added.

At the Antlers Lodge, general manager Magda King said she sees the mask mandates as a good marketing move.

“It does send a great message,” King said. “We have guests thank us — it gives them reassurance.”

While King acknowledged that some guests find the mandate “ridiculous,” she added that many other guests have thanked people at the Antlers for the mandate.

“It’s a sign of respect,” King said of mask wearing. “It’s sending the right message to the visitor.”

Scott Rednor’s Shakedown Bar has been closed for most of the past year. In fact, the bar is now serving as studio space for local musicians. Talking by phone while tuning drums for a rehearsal, Rednor said he’s ambivalent about the mandate.

“I don’t really think about it,” Rednor said. “Whatever it takes to stay safe and stop the (virus’) spread.”

Rednor said getting on top of managing the virus will take “just a little bit longer,” adding he’s willing to do what it takes until that day comes.

Douglas is ready to be mask-free outside as soon as the lifts stop running.

“It was miserable,” Douglas said of Breckenridge’s summer outdoor mask mandate. The current mandate in Vail “has served its purpose,” he added.

Four facts

• Masks have for some time been required inside businesses.

• Breckenridge imposed an outdoor mandate in the summer of 2020

• Vail in early November imposed an outdoor mandate in resort areas.

• Eagle County is currently in the state’s level yellow on the COVID-19 dashboard.

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