AURORA | A group of sitting and newly-elected Republican Aurora City Council members are requesting the city disregard a new mask mandate for Adams and Arapahoe counties because it doesn’t cover a sliver of residents in Douglas County, which has no public establishments.
The mask mandate, which goes into effect Wednesday at 12:01 a.m., requires all people ages 2 and older to wear a face covering in all public indoor places.
The council members all signed a letter, saying it would cause inequity about where in Aurora the mask mandate would be required and where it wouldn’t. There are, however, no commercial businesses in the Douglas County portion of Aurora, according to city data.
The letter said the Tri-County measure “has placed the City of Aurora in a situation where the new mandate will not evenly apply to all our city’s residents.”
The mandate, however, only applies to public indoor places, such as restaurants, retail stores, gyms and other public places, according to language in the measure, and there aren’t any in the Aurora portion of Douglas County. Any of those residents shopping, dining or visiting public indoor places in Arapahoe or Adams counties would be required to wear a mask.
Denver, Jefferson County , Boulder County and Adams and Arapahoe counties will all soon be under a new mask mandate. Douglas County pulled out of Tri-County Health earlier this year, and is now handling all of its own pandemic management.
Gov. Jared Polis, speaking during an update to statewide media Tuesday afternoon, questioned the move by Aurora lawmakers to back away from a mask mandate.
“I wouldn’t be looking at ZIP codes or geographical lines,” in creating mask mandate policy, Polis said.
While Adams County has also pulled out of Tri-County, it’s still under the new mask mandate order.
“We believe that in order to maintain a consistent enforcement policy across our city, in all three counties, with differing mask requirements, that Aurora should continue to follow guidelines set forth by the State of Colorado as it relates to the issue of mask mandates,” the group wrote in the letter to city management.
With no public businesses or facilities in Aurora in Douglas County, the measure would not be applicable to anything there.
Council member-elects Steve Sundberg, Dustin Zvonek and Danielle Jurinsky joined council members Francoise Bergan, Curtis Gardner and Mayor Mike Coffman in signing the letter, which was posted on social media Tuesday.
About 0.6% of the population of Aurora lives in Douglas County and will be under that county’s new health department’s jurisdiction. The split was something Aurora city lawmakers tried to avoid. Coffman introduced a resolution this summer asking county officials to stay opted in to Tri-County Health.
“I really want to keep it together and it’s the best interest of the city and the tax payers in the entire region,” he told the Sentinel after introducing the measure. Only council member Marsha Berzins voted “no” on the resolution urging the counties to stick with the one health agency.
“I understand that some of the decisions were controversial, but they also helped to navigate us through a very difficult time where I felt they were making the best decisions with the information they had,” he said.
City spokesperson Michael Brannen said in a statement that Aurora city management hasn’t officially received the mask mandate order from Tri-County Health. “Once the city has received the order, we will review it with our legal department, and determine our role with the order.”
Aurora has not instituted its own mask mandate at any time throughout the pandemic. Monday evening city council members returned to the Aurora Municipal Center for the first time in 20 months, though at a limited capacity. Masks were optional.