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Wheat Ridge Among Colorado Cities Requiring Face Coverings

WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. (CBS4) – Following Wheat Ridge's lead, Boulder City Council is set to vote on a new order requiring everyone to wear a face covering while inside businesses. Currently, the state only requires employees of critical businesses to wear masks, but Gov. Jared Polis has repeatedly encouraged all Coloradans to wear masks to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

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Last week, Wheat Ridge city manager, Patrick Goff, issued his city's order, which requires that "customers entering critical businesses cover their nose and mouth by wearing a mask or other form of facial covering." The order applies through May 30.

Originally in Wheat Ridge, violating the order was punishable by a misdemeanor charge, but last night its city council passed a new resolution. Now, the city is asking for compliance and will handle complaints on a case by case basis.

A city spokesperson said the idea for the order came after city leaders received many calls from grocery store workers worried about their safety.

"The employees didn't feel like it was fair on both sides of it," said Elizabeth Gregg, General Manager of Applejack Wine and Spirits. "To protect themselves, they thought it would be responsible for the customers also to have a face mask."

At the King Soopers off Youngfield Road, CBS4 observed countless customers wearing masks. One woman, who wasn't wearing a mask, tried to enter, but was turned away.

"It's been fine. I don't mind it at all," Deana Dow, a shopper at King Soopers.

"There's very few people in Wheat Ridge that I don't see have a mask on so that's good," said Tearsa Nelson, another customer.

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Across the parking lot at Applejack Wine and Spirits, a sticker on the door says "masks required," and if you forgot yours, an employee will offer you a bandana.

"We've had very minimal objection to it, just a couple customers, and when we explain that it's a new Wheat Ridge ordinance they seem to be fine with it," said Gregg.

The apparent success now has other Front Range cities noticing. A city of Wheat Ridge spokesperson said the city manager has heard from leaders in several nearby areas, including Boulder.

"We thought Wheat Ridge was pretty pioneering and we wanted to look at both what they had done and how we could adapt it in Boulder," said Mayor Sam Weaver.

Boulder also passed a similar resolution at its meeting on Tuesday night.

He said it'll be for an indefinite amount of time and leave enforcement up to the businesses.

"Our hope is to be collaborative with our business community using education first and any enforcement would probably be complaint based," Weaver said.

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He tells CBS4 he's heard from a number of constituents about the order and the majority are OK with it. The most frequent concerns regard disabilities and personal liberties.

Weaver sees the order as the start of a culture change aimed at keeping the public healthy and safe.

"If we begin the culture now, then in two weeks or three weeks when we open more retail and service businesses, then the culture will be something the people understand going into those changes, going into the more opening that we're going to do," he said.

On Monday, Aspen City Council passed a similar resolution, requiring face coverings within city limits. Earlier this month, nearby Glenwood Springs mandated that face coverings must be worn by people doing any essential activities outside their home.

RELATED: Latest Updates On The Coronavirus Outbreak In Colorado

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