The Avon Town Council has called a special meeting for Tuesday to consider an emergency ordinance requiring people to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces.
The council will host a public hearing on the issue first, starting at 5 p.m. The meeting will be set up as a virtual meeting, and those who wish to comment can register and join the meeting by visiting avon.org.
Last week, Avon became the first town in Eagle County to open up an outdoor concert venue to live music for the summer. Comments rolled in following the move, with local resident Richard Silverman, who lives near the park, pointing out that the event cost the town money, and asking “why take the risk?”
Councilmember Amy Philipps also joined in the discussion, and a few days later, Councilmember Jake Wolf held a Facebook poll asking if the town should “require masks and fine individuals and/or businesses for violations?”
Twenty-four hours later, more than 800 people had responded “yes,” and 460 people responded “no.”
Not an emergency
By the time Wolf held his poll, however, the council had already decided to host and special meeting on Tuesday to take up the matter. It’s the only item on the regular agenda.
Wolf said while it would appear that the special meeting and the emergency ordnance were called as a result of an urgency to come up with a mask policy following the concert on Wednesday, that was not the case.
“We actually had to meet because of an executive session item which has pressing deadline,” Wolf said. “So we put this on the agenda for a regular session item since we needed to meet in closed session anyway.”
An emergency mask ordinance would be a departure from the less-forceful language used on signs at Wednesday’s concert which stated: “Facial coverings encouraged while using walkways.”
Wolf said he thinks the council has mixed opinions on the matter, which also prompted the need for another meeting on the issue.
“It’s something we really didn’t get to all the way in our last regular session,” Wolf said.
Not required in Eagle County
Masks are currently required in indoor public spaces and outdoors when 6 feet of distance can’t be maintained in Aspen, Basalt, Breckenridge, Crested Butte, Estes Park, Frisco, Glenwood Springs, Gunnison, Silverthorne, Steamboat Springs and Telluride.
Eagle County commissioners have held off on making masks mandatory, saying they don’t believe a mandatory mask order would increase compliance.
“Rather than making (masks) mandatory in every public place, we are relying on our community’s culture of caring for each other and setting an example for our visitors,” the commissioners wrote in a Vail Daily column published June 26.
While it’s true that Eagle County has had a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, the Aspen area, where masks are mandatory, recently had a spike in cases, as well, said county commissioner Matt Scherr.
“It’s not such a cause and effect where you can say (an area with a mask order) has lower cases,” said county commissioner Chandler-Henry said.
Commissioners said making masks mandatory would increase calls to the sheriff.
“IIt makes (law enforcement officers) busy for no real end purpose,” Scherr said.