Rio Grande Public Health clarifies new mask requirements

RIO GRANDE COUNTY — As of the last week in March, all counties within the San Luis Valley have shifted to Level Green on the State’s COVID dial and with that change, Colorado Governor Jared Polis also made some changes to the mask mandate which was also extended for 30 days beginning March 31.

It has been over a year since the first mask mandate hit the State of Colorado and many are wondering how the new changes to the mandate will affect San Luis valley communities now that they are all listed as Green.

To understand the new mask mandate, Rio Grande Public Health Department Director Dr. Kolawole Bankole explained the changes and how it will affect each community if the metrics remain the same and counties remain in Green.

Colorado’s mask order was extended and modified last week Saturday, April 3, and many people have questions about what it means to our Rio Grande County, Bankole said.

Local public health authorities continue to recommend and encourage continued mask wearing, social distancing, and other precautions for the time being until a larger percentage of the population has been vaccinated, regardless of updates to the statewide mask mandate. This will help protect one another over the coming weeks while more and more people in the area get the vaccine, Bankole said.

In all counties, masks are still required for persons 11 and older in preschool through grade 12 schools (including extracurricular activities), childcare centers, indoor childrens’ camps, public-facing government facilities, healthcare settings, personal care services such as hair salons, body art, nail salons, congregate care facilities, prisons, and jails.

In levels other than Green, masks are mandatory in public indoor settings where there are 10 or more unvaccinated individuals or individuals whose vaccination status is unknown.

For more details on the updated mask order, including limited exceptions, visit online The new modified mask order is automatically in effect, with no special requests needed at the local level. Local jurisdictions have the option to implement more comprehensive mask requirements if warranted, but at this time Rio Grande County has not chosen to do so, Bankole said.

As of Monday, April 5, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) released an amended public health order that provides updates to the COVID-19 dial framework.

Some key changes include:

Clarifying that 6 feet distancing from non-household members remains required in Level Green.

Specifying that only unseated, rather than seated, Indoor Events are subject to the 50% capacity limit not to exceed 500 people in Level Green.

Authorizing counties in Level Green to determine masks requirements as authorized in Executive Order D 2021 079. Authorizing seated Indoor Events in Level Green to operate at 100% capacity with 6 feet distancing, allowing seating of up to 10 people together including non-household members, and requiring organizers or operators of any such events that exceed 500 people to consult with CDPHE.

Updating to allow seated Indoor Events in Level Blue to seat up to 10 people together including non-household members and require organizers or operators of any such events that exceed 500 people to consult with CDPHE.

Clarifying that bars in Level Blue may operate and are not required to sell or provide food.

Removing the prohibition on dance floors and games in restaurants and bars.

For more information, visit the state’s COVID information page at


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