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Denver businesses torn after city drops 'mask or vax' requirement

Mask requirements
Posted at 9:53 PM, Jan 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-01 00:32:59-05

DENVER — Starting Friday, Denver will take another turn in the pandemic and drop its "mask or vax" requirement to enter Denver businesses. By doing away with the citywide mandate, it now falls on businesses to decide if customers will need masks or proof of vaccination.

If you walk into Little Man Ice Cream, what’s required is common knowledge.

"As of right now, we are requiring masks to enter our store unless seated," said area manager Dominic DiCarlantonio.

Their big decision is whether they’ll continue to require customers to wear masks. For now, employees will keep them on, which could help when it comes to keeping staffing levels healthy.

"We've also seen our guests respect that our team is wearing masks and put on masks out of respect, so that's been an additional benefit," said DiCarlantonio. "But I do think there's a sense of security creating an environment that people can thrive in when they know that their co-workers are wearing masks."

In a press conference Monday, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said the city’s decision comes at an important pivot point in the battle against COVID-19. The Denver Department of Public Health and Environemnt said based on modeling from the state, lifting the mask mandate would have little change on the number of cases and hospitalizations.

"Omicron has run out of fuel in our community," said Bob McDonald, executive director of DDPHE. "It is safe now to lift our face coverings but still be diligent."

At Trellis Wine Bar in Park Hill, their proof of vaccination requirement will go away Friday.

"The plan is to take the signs down off of the door and follow what the local experts say is fine for us to do," said Ilona Botton, one of the owners.

Still, they want customers and staff to feel comfortable when they come inside.

"If the staff wants to wear a mask, they absolutely can," said Botton. "If somebody coming in doesn't feel comfortable with that, they can wear masks in the space as well."

It's a decision they hope means better months ahead.

"I am optimistic that, again, what the experts are saying that the pandemic is now becoming an endemic, and I'm just going to hope that that's the case," said Botton.

The Colorado Restaurant Association told Denver7 in part, “We hope that Colorado diners will comply with whatever their local restaurants ask of them when they enter their establishments. If a restaurant owner asks you to wear a mask when you’re not seated, please do.”

Masks will still be required at schools and child care facilities.