Jan 31, 2022 - COVID

Denver to lift its mask or vax mandate except for schools

Illustration of a pattern of covid masks.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Denver will no longer require masks or proof of COVID-19 vaccinations at indoor public settings effective this Friday.

Yes, but: The mandate will remain in place on public transit, as well as in schools and child care facilities in an effort to keep classrooms open.

Driving the news: A decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the prior two weeks and the city's 78% vaccination rate led to the decision to let the current mandate expire, Mayor Michael Hancock announced Monday.

  • "Omicron has run out of fuel in our community," Denver public health director Bob McDonald said. "It's safe now to lift our face coverings."
  • The state last Friday removed a vaccination requirement at unseated indoor events in the Denver metro with more than 500 people.

The big picture: Other places are going a step further. Tri-County Health, which covers Adams and Arapahoe counties, announced Monday that it will lift its mask mandate this weekend for all public indoor spaces, including schools.

  • Larimer County said it plans to let its mask requirement expire Feb. 11.

What they're saying: Mayor Michael Hancock, a Democrat, said lifting the order was based on science and described it as a "pivot point in this battle."

  • "This virus is something we are going to have to manage and learn to live with," Hancock said. "…Denver, from this point forward, will be transitioning into a sustainable management of COVID."

But, but, but: Masks are still "strongly encouraged" in all settings, city officials cautioned, and some high-risk facilities may keep requirements in place.

  • Hancock said "this is still a public health emergency," contradicting prior declarations from Colorado Gov. Jared Polis that the pandemic is over,
  • The mayor urged people to get vaccinated and promoted booster shots, adding Denverites should seek testing if symptoms emerge.

Between the lines: Despite the spread of an Omicron subvariant, McDonald told Axios that modeling figures for the near future show it wouldn't create the same surge in infections. "I don't think it's too premature to do this at this point," he said.


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