Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) issued a statewide mask mandate Thursday afternoon — finally giving in to pressure from mask orders in more than 20 other states to make the move.
“Look, in Colorado, there’s no shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service,” Polis said in a news conference Thursday. “Very simple.”
Polis made the announcement just one week after he declined to issue a formal order requiring masks, despite increasing pressure from other Democratic governors and local Colorado officials to intervene.
“I don’t think there’s too many people sitting around saying, ‘I’m not going to wear a mask until there’s some piece of paper,” Polis said at a news conference on July 9.
Since then he has issued an executive order that will require all Coloradans over the age of 10 to don a mask or other facial covering while in indoor public spaces. Violators “may be subject to civil or criminal penalties,” Polis said regarding the order that will be put in place at midnight on Thursday for at least 30 days.
Polis’ move to mandate masks was slow compared to many of his Democratic colleagues who have been requiring masks in their states for weeks. NPR reported on Monday that more than 20 states had already made mask orders. The move follows a mask mandate on Wednesday by Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock (MT) that currently applies to 25 counties in the state, according to NBC Montana. The decision also lags some Republicans who reluctantly put mask orders in place in recent weeks — among the latest, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) issued a statewide mask requirement to take effect on Thursday.
Nearly 40 cities and counties in Colorado had already issued mask orders as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations grow throughout the state, according to the Denver Post. Mayor Michael Hancock, issued a local mask order in Denver on May 1, and Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman has called face coverings the “least invasive and least costly public health option” to curb the spread of the virus.
“The data is beginning to be alarming,” Polis said.
The news also comes just a day after Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R) issued an executive order that banned local officials from making mask mandates — an effort that “suspended” mask mandates that had cropped up in Savannah and quickly spread to cities like Atlanta, Athens and Augusta. Each city had their own mask orders in place, which the governor has now forbidden.