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Colorado City to Mandate Face Masks, Violators Face up to a Year in Jail

Aiste Misiunaite gets swabbed for a coronavirus test at a testing site set up at an event in Civic Center Park in Denver, Colo. June 20, 2020. (Kevin Mohatt/Reuters)

The city of Englewood, Colo., has issued an emergency order requiring residents to wear a face mask in public, a mandate that grants violators the right to a trial but could result in up to a year in jail.

City Manager J. Shawn Lewis of Englewood, slightly south of Denver, issued the order, which was approved by the city council on Monday and will go into effect on Friday.

The city will require residents over five years old to wear a face mask covering both their nose and mouth while in business and government offices, health-care facilities, and on public transportation. Drivers of public transportation and vehicles for hire must wear a mask at all times while driving in Englewood. Businesses must require their employees to wear masks when they are around others, in a public space, or dealing with food products.

A first offense carries a $15 fine, and a second offense is punishable by a $25 fine. Those who plead not guilty are entitled to a trial, with a maximum penalty of $2,650 or up to 360 days in prison.

The face-mask mandates come as coronavirus infections and hospitalizations spike in Colorado, although the increase is not as dramatic as the recent rise of cases in other southern and western states, including Arizona, Texas, Florida, and California. Colorado reported 1,734 new coronavirus cases between June 29 and Sunday, and 1,748 the previous week. The state has documented more than 35,000 cases and more than 1,700 deaths since the pandemic began in March.

Colorado has not issued a statewide order requiring face masks in public, but many localities have opted to mandate them. On Wednesday, the Tri-County Health Department voted to require face masks in public for Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas counties in Colorado, an order that will last for 90 days once issued.

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