DENVER -- Colorado Gov. Jared Polis issued a statewide mask mandate during a news conference Thursday afternoon.
Polis says the mandate takes effect at midnight and applies to everyone over the age of 10. Masks will be required in all indoor public spaces.
The move comes after several jurisdictions in Colorado enacted their own mask mandates, including Denver and the Tri-County Public Health Department. The goal is to increase compliance with public mask-wearing to as close to 90% as possible. Studies have shown that wearing masks reduces the spread of COVID-19.
This mandate, unlike the others issued before does not allow counties or individual municipalities to exempt themselves from the rule.
Polis explained, "people shouldn't be like inspecting a map to know where it's safe to go to the store. Colorado is open for business. Colorado is doing it in the safest way possible. Statewide clarity. Moral clarity. Health clarity. No matter where you live, no matter how you work."
On the list of people exempted from the mandate; people with a medical conditions that "makes them unable to tolerate a mask", though the Governor did add that those individuals are encouraged to stay home as much as possible.
Still Polis said this mandate is the best way to keep Colorado open.
"This is the least costly and simplest intervention we can do. It would be inexcusable in my mind to even be talking about closing down businesses or limiting commerce if you haven't even instituted a mask-wearing requirement for Colorado," he said.
In response to a question about enforcement of the mask ordinance, the governor said that this now gives the business owners the ability to call local law enforcement for trespassing if a person on site isn't wearing a mask.
"If someone is on private property, the owner of the property says you need to leave, you're violating our terms of service, maybe you're naked, maybe you're not wearing a mask, maybe you're yelling, maybe you're yelling fire, fire, fire, when there's not a fire. Law enforcement is very responsive to those type of trespassing complaints that are lodged by private establishments," the Governor explained.
Polis also said the state is enacting a two-week pause on issuing any new variances to counties. Any counties with existing variances that are seeing rising levels of cases "must take bold and urgent steps" to suppress the virus, otherwise they could lose the variance.
This is a developing story, check back for updates.