WELD COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — The Weld County Sheriff’s Office said it will not actively enforce Gov. Jared Polis’ newly announced executive order requiring most people to wear face coverings in public spaces.
According to Joe Moylan, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, there are not enough resources to enforce the order.
“We’re not going to be actively policing whether or not people are wearing masks. We just don’t have the resources for that,” Moylan said.
The order, which Polis announced Thursday, goes into effect at midnight. It will expire after 30 days but could be extended.
The order applies to people 10 years old and older.
“We have a choice in Colorado: either more mask wearing and more attention to social distancing or more damage to our economy and loss of life. That’s an easy decision to make,” Polis said.
Polis said the the executive order makes not wearing a mask inside a business a trespassing violation, similar to not wearing clothes.
A number of Front Range communities require face coverings in public places, but Weld County does not.
Moylan says deputies will respond to complaints, but that mask calls will be “low priority.”
“If the person is making a scene or being threatening, obviously we’re going to respond to those things,” Moylan said. “But if somebody calls and says, ‘Hey, we’ve got somebody here not wearing a mask,’ if we have more pressing things to go to, we’re obviously going to go to those first.”
Moylan says deputies will encourage compliance and may refer individuals seen multiple times without a mask.
“We’re going to be encouraging public compliance if we bump into anybody out on the road not wearing a mask,” he said. “If we do come across some repeat offenders or some egregious offenders, we’ll be referring them to the Weld County Department of Public Health.”
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office took a similar stance. It issued the following statement via Twitter:
“These are trying times in many aspects for law enforcement. We cannot afford to take actions that further erode the public trust in us. As such, the official position of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office is to continue to educate the public on the benefits of wearing face coverings in enclosed public places. We will stress that wearing a mask will slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. We will not, however, be expending resources of the S.O. on issuing citations to individuals not wearing masks.”
As recently as Tuesday, Polis had said that he wasn’t making masks a statewide requirement because it wasn’t possible for state police to or other agencies to enforce it.
More than half of the states in the U.S. require residents to wear masks in public, including California, Nevada, Kansas and New Mexico.