As the pandemic continues we are now starting to see Orwellian measures taken to prevent the spread. The city of Englewood, Colorado is now requiring all of its residents to wear face masks amid a spike in coronavirus cases — warning that violators could risk up to a year behind bars, in addition to a hefty fine.
An emergency order, issued by City Manager J. Shawn Lewis and approved by the city council Monday, went into effect Thursday. It states that everyone in the city over the age of 6 will be required to wear a mask while outside their homes or face violations and possible jail time.
The order goes on to state that face masks must be worn at all times inside any retail or commercial business, governmental office, or health care facility.
Masks must also be worn while waiting for or riding on public transportation, as well as inside taxis or other ride-sharing vehicles.
Face masks are not required inside personal offices as long as co-workers are working at least six feet separated from each other and there are no clients or customers inside the building at the time.
First offenders will be ticketed with a measly $15 fine, while second and subsequent offenders will be given the wonderful opportunity to pay the city $25.
However, the order states that the maximum penalty is a fine of up to $2,650, 360 days behind bars, or both at the city’s discretion.
“Any person charged with an offense under this Emergency Order may choose to enter a plea of not guilty and be entitled to a trial as authorized by the law,” the order states.
Thus far, Colorado’s Gov. Jared Polis has declined to issue a statewide mandate requiring citizens to wear a mask. individual counties within Colorado have taken matters into their own hands. Denver, Boulder, Routt, and Summit counties have all enacted mask-wearing requirements stating that violators have jail time or fines, Colorado Sun reported.
Colorado’s Tri-County Health Department followed those counties’ lead by further requiring mask-wearing in Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas counties. That order, however, will allow local leaders to opt their counties or towns out of its enforcement.
“Everybody should be wearing a mask across the Tri-County area,” said Julie Mullica, a member of Tri-County’s board and an infectious disease expert who voted for the order, according to The Aurora Sentinel.
A number of cities have also enacted mask mandates, including Wheat Ridge, Glenwood Springs, Lone Tree, Fort Collins, Estes Park, and Aspen.
“It’s stupid not to wear a mask,” Colorado’s governor Polis said during a press conference in June.
On July 9th, Polis doubled down on that comment stating at a press conference “If I haven’t been clear,” Polis said, “wear a damn mask.” However, he wasn’t wearing a mask himself when he stated for others to wear one.
Polis also said a statewide mandate for people to wear masks would be unmanageable.
“We wouldn’t be able to enforce it,” Polis stated. “For a mask ordinance to work it has to have local buy in … Local policymakers and police have to cooperate to make mask ordinances work
“Fines at the municipal level, if they’re enforced, can be effective, particularly for out-of-staters,” Polis said.
“I think they should be cited and given tickets if they’re violating mask ordinances in any given area, because they have to learn Colorado is serious about it,” Polis added.
California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Kansas, Illinois, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are among the total of more than 20 states that have enacted some sort of mask-wearing requirement. However, very few states have introduced jail time into the mix when it comes to enforcing the mask-wearing with most focusing on fines.
Englewood in Colorado isn’t the only county that is enforcing jail time and fines. In Boulder County, it carries a fine of up to $15,000 and a year in jail. While in Clear Creek County, failure to comply with the order may result in jail time or a fine of up to $5,000. Where fines may be appropriate jail time for failing to wear a mask seems to be pushing it.