Denver and Metro Region Act to Preserve Hospital Capacity

Published on November 23, 2021

Face coverings or proof of vaccination required for indoor public spaces beginning Wednesday

With COVID-19 surging across the state and hospital capacity threatened, Mayor Michael B. Hancock, joined by metro-area public health leaders, today announced a new face covering order for Denver as part of a coordinated approach to prevent the region’s hospital system from collapsing.   

Mayor Hancock, along with Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) executive director Bob McDonald, were joined by public health directors from Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Denver, and Jefferson counties and officials from Denver Health, including hospital CEO Robin Wittenstein. 

“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve all understood that managing this pandemic was not something any one of us could do by going it alone,” Mayor Hancock said. “While the rate of vaccination is high in Denver and across the metro area, unvaccinated individuals are causing our hospital capacity to become dangerously strained, and regional protective actions have become necessary to reduce this dangerous pressure on our hospitals.”   

Community transmission of COVID-19 remains high throughout the region. As such, beginning Wednesday, face coverings will be required in Denver for everyone aged 2 and older in all public, indoor spaces. The public health order will be in effect until Jan. 3, 2022 unless rescinded.   

As vaccination provides the strongest protection against COVID-19, local businesses and venues may opt to verify vaccinations in lieu of requiring face coverings. If a business or venue can verify that at least 95% of people within the facility (including employees and customers) are fully vaccinated, then face coverings will not be required.   

“Reducing infections now is imperative to alleviating strain on our regional hospital capacity,” McDonald said. “With the high rate of infection across Colorado, face coverings are a tool to help curb the spread of the virus and provide an extra layer of protection for those who are vaccinated. “We must act now to ensure hospital beds are available for anyone in need.”   

This public health order does not change face covering requirements in schools and childcare facilities, where masks have been required since August. Proof of vaccination will still be required for unseated, public events of more than 500 people in metro Denver, per the recent order issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Increased use of face coverings are proven tools to reduce transmission of the coronavirus, but face coverings alone will not move us out of the pandemic. Vaccines are the long-term solution, which is why Denver has mandated vaccines for city employees and people working in high-risk settings. DDPHE is also concentrating efforts on bringing vaccinations to young children recently approved to receive the vaccines, Denver’s most vulnerable communities and those with barriers to vaccine access.   

Facilities wishing to implement a vaccine verification program in lieu of the face covering requirement should contact COVIDvaccine@denvergov.org. Businesses participating in the program must verify vaccination status by checking proof of vaccination, like a vaccine card or the MyColorado smartphone app.   

The full version of the Public Health Order and more information, including signage for businesses will be made available on Denvergov.org/COVID19.