Vail likely to drop its outdoor mask rules |

Vail likely to drop its outdoor mask rules

Business owners say mandate has done its job

Vail will stop enforcing its outdoor mask mandate April 19, the day after Vail Mountain closes. Other mask requirements will remain in effect.
Scott N. Miller

Thank you, mask mandate. Now it’s time to ride into the sunset.

After a successful winter, all things considered, Vail officials are expected to lift the town’s outdoor mask mandate as of April 19, the day after Vail Mountain closes.

The council in November 2020 imposed the outdoor mandate, which requires people to wear face coverings outdoors in the town’s resort villages. The town passed an emergency ordinance to impose the mandate, and can’t repeal the ordinance until its April 20 regular meeting. In the meantime, the council has instructed Town Manager Scott Robson to stop enforcement of the ordinance as of April 19.

Vail’s outdoor mandate came relatively late among other resort towns, particularly Breckenridge and Aspen. Those towns imposed outdoor mandates in the summer of 2020. Vail council members were split on the topic in August, voting 4-3 against imposing an outdoor mandate. With a fall spike in cases and the prospect of another near-shutdown looming just before ski season, council members Nov. 3 voted to mandate mask use in outdoor areas of Vail’s resort villages.

Council member Jenn Bruno Tuesday brought up the idea of lifting the mandate. Bruno, the co-owner of the Luca Bruno clothing stores in Vail Village, has long opposed the mandate, saying it doesn’t give employees an opportunity to catch a maskless breath of fresh air during a long work day.

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Mayor Dave Chapin noted that outdoor mask mandates — with the exception of areas where people can’t maintain social distancing in stretches of 15 minutes or more — are being dropped elsewhere in the state.

The council acted on the mandate at its Tuesday afternoon session. During the citizen participation portion of the Tuesday evening meeting, two local business owners also asked council to repeal the ordinance.

“The time is right” for a repeal, restaurateur Matt Morgan told council members. Morgan added that most of the “most vulnerable” people have been vaccinated, and vaccines are now available to just about everyone age 16 and older.

Morgan added that the at-risk population should feel more confident about safety, and that an informal survey of his staff and customers shows support for lifting the mandate.

“This is an opportunity for the town of Vail to take a leadership position,” on outdoor mask wearing, Morgan said.

Venture Sports owner Mike Brumbaugh also urged the council to lift the outdoor mandate. Brumbaugh told council members that he employs about 100 people at the firm’s four Vail locations, and all are in favor of lifting the outdoor mandate.

Even the employees who tested positive for COVID-19 over the winter are urging the town to “go back to normal.”

Brumbaugh added that during a very busy summer of 2020, there were no outdoor mandates, and no outbreaks associated with those areas.

Dropping the mandate is likely to generate complaints. In interviews for an April 6 Vail Daily story on the subject, some Vail residents and business owners said they would like to continue the requirement.

Most council members supported dropping the mandate, but Council member Jen Mason said she isn’t in favor of the move.

Council member Brian Stockmar, who last summer lobbied to impose an outdoor mandate, was absent during Tuesday’s meeting.

Still, Mason said, there seems to be enough support from the other five council members that the repeal is likely.

At a glance

• As of April 19, Vail officials will no longer enforce the town’s outdoor mask mandate.

• Other public health orders will remain in effect. That means masks are still required inside businesses.

• The Vail Town Council at its April 20 meeting is likely to repeal the emergency ordinance that enacted the mandate.

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