Colorado Businesses Left Trying To Figure Out How Enforce New Mask Order

A day after Governor Jared Polis extended and tweaked the state’s mask mandate, businesses are still grappling with details and what it will mean for them and their patrons.

“It’s a great step to remove these, I just don’t think we’re going to go as far as say you don’t have to wear a mask in any of our establishments,” said Scott Spears, a business owner in Olde Town Arvada. “There’s been a pattern where there’s not tons of information yet when the announcements are made. I usually look into it as much as I can, and it usually says more information to come.”

Spears oversees some of the area’s most popular restaurants including School House Kitchen and Libations, So Radish, Scrumptious Ice Cream, as well as a toy store and a store just for socks. He says the order is short on details for the restaurants and he believes he’ll leave in place mask requirements for his other shops.

“We can’t ask our staff to do much more. It’s hard to train them to do new things especially when there’s not that much information on how to do it,” Spears said.

Around the state organizations, health departments, and businesses were all scrambling to see how the loosened order for vaccinated people would apply.

“This puts restaurants in a really difficult position of having to regulate their employees and regulate the customers who come into their establishment. And these are businesses in the business of customer service. They want to make people feel comfortable and now they’re being faced with a situation to ask customers potentially personal medical information before allowing them into their establishment,” said Mollie Steinemann, the Colorado Restaurant Association Local Government Affairs Manager.

Steinemann said she’s been lobbing questions toward the governor’s office and the state with few responses so far. She was constantly hearing from some of the more than 3,000 members of the CRA.

“What does proof of vaccination look like? Is it vaccine cards, is it a note from your doctor?” she said. “It’s just not the role of restaurants within our communities to police people in the way they’re getting vaccinated or not vaccinated. It creates confusion and it definitely hurts that customer service relationship that restaurants are so good at providing.”

Steinemann added that restaurants have proven over the past few months they are safe for patrons and are held to a high safety standard before and during the pandemic.

Spears is concerned about his staff that has already dealt with more than a year of COVID-related issues.

“We don’t want it to go back to how it was when masks first started where people would get into fights with staff. We need to keep them as safe as possible. So, it’s really hard to try and get onboard with this one,” he said.

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