Vail drops its outdoor face mask mandate
The Vail Town Council on Tuesday repealed the requirement to wear facial coverings outdoors in the town’s resort villages.
Responding to changes in the COVID-19 pandemic, the town stopped enforcement April 19 of its outdoor mask mandate, first passed in November 2020. Full repeal had to wait until the April 20 meeting.
The original outdoor mandate was passed in an effort to maintain a semblance of a full ski season. At the time, town and Vail Resorts officials were looking for consistency in requirements for guests heading from the town’s main parking structures to the gondolas in Vail Village and Lionshead.
“I think it worked well,” Town Manager Scott Robson told the council.
Council member Brian Stockmar had been an early advocate of the outdoor mandate.
Stockmar said the studies he’s seen recently indicate that social distancing is the most effective way to prevent transmission of the virus. Stockmar said he’s “reluctantly” come to the conclusion the mandate could be dropped, but urged the community to continue to maintain distance and caution.
“I think we need to (drop the mandate),” Council member Travis Coggin said, adding that the mandate created “a lot of uncomfortable situations” for a lot of front-line employees.
Mayor Dave Chapin said the town has received a number of emails on the topic. Almost all were in favor of dropping the mandate, Chapin said.
That support wasn’t unanimous.
Resident Doug Smith asked the council to give the mandate another 30 days in order to get vaccinations to that many more local residents.
But Venture Sports owner Mike Brumbaugh spoke in favor of dropping the outdoor mandate.
Brumbaugh noted his stores have seen fistfights over the past several months, and noted that the county has had more mental health transfers than COVID cases over the winter.
The council voted 6-0 for the repeal, with Council member Jen Mason absent Tuesday.
“It’s nice to release the outdoors,” Council member Kevin Foley said. “I really want to ride my bike without a mask.”
Still, council members urged caution.
“This is going to be with us for a while,” Coggin said. “Be responsible, and when you can’t distance, wear a mask.”
While Vail has dropped its outdoor mask mandate, other public health orders remain in effect. That means wearing masks in stores, in restaurants until seated and on town buses.