DENVER (CBS4)- The City of Denver on Tuesday announced an indoor mask mandate for most businesses and venues. This public health order will go into effect on Wednesday and will stay in effect until Jan. 2.
"Denver's vaccination rate is steller, we're just at under 70%," said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. "Our residents understand why getting vaccinated is important."
However, Hancock said that other regions of Colorado are not boasting about their vaccination rate.
He said that local businesses and venues can opt out of the face mask mandate by verifying vaccinations. If a business or venue can verify that at least 95% of people within the facility, including employees and customers, are fully vaccinated, then face coverings will not be required.
Hancock said the mask mandate is important to keep businesses open, schools open at full capacity and to help hospitals keep from overflowing their capacity.
"If you are vaccinated, don't forget to get your booster shot," said Hancock.
"The only way out of this pandemic is to get vaccinated," said Bob McDonald, executive director of the Denver Department of Public Health. "The more unvaccinated people we have, the more breakthrough cases we will have."
The current public health measures for Denver include a vaccine mandate for personnel working in high-risk settings, state and city employees and city and state contractors; a face-covering mandate for all indoor public spaces for everyone ages 2 and up; a proof of vaccine where people must show proof of vaccine in certain public venues and over 500 unseated events.
"In many ways we're worse now than we were at the beginning do the pandemic," said McDonald.
The move comes as other Denver metro area counties are asking the state to implement an indoor mask mandate. Jefferson County asked the governor to impose that face mask order statewide, but will now reinstate a mandate on its own. Boulder and Larimer counties have already reinstated mask orders.
The health departments representing Adams and Arapahoe counties are taking the same approach. Gov. Jared Polis has resisted reinstating a mask mandate or capacity limits on businesses.
"Hospitals are overwhelmed because of people who chose not to get vaccinated," said McDonald. "This is a statewide problem that needs statewide attention."
"While the rate of vaccination is high in Denver and across the metro area, unvaccinated individuals are causing our hospital capacity to become dangerously strained, and regional protective actions have become necessary to reduce this dangerous pressure on our hospitals," said Hancock.
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