Opinion: This is no time for a vacation, Congress

Colorado is slowly getting back to work.

Whether we on this editorial board agree with the decision or not, Gov. Jared Polis on April 27 eased the state's stay-at-home order into a more relaxed safer-at-home order. That means some so-called "nonessential" businesses, like salons and retail stores, can get back to work and clients can get back to patronizing those industries ... as long as everyone involved meets certain safety protocols.

One of those guidelines, both for employees and customers, is to wear a cloth mask that covers your nose and mouth.

The rationale is clear: By donning the covering, you are protecting those around you from potentially picking up an extremely contagious and little understood virus if you are the one carrying it. This is not a difficult concept to understand, and yet a small but loud minority still refuses to comply.

To be clear, wearing a mask does not make you a "sheep" and it's not bondage (some have even gone so far as to horribly equate it to slavery), despite what a massive vice presidential faux pas and blatant breach of Mayo Clinic etiquette would have you believe. It shows that you are a compassionate human who is concerned about your fellow citizens, and who is willing to do your part to protect your friends, neighbors, colleagues, community, state and nation.

But you don't have to take our word for it. The Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development Corporation, and El Paso County Public Health both advise companies to encourage clients to wear face coverings when entering the business/organization and to provide some sort of covering for all on-site staff who are interacting with other personnel or the public.

Some Colorado Springs businesses won't allow you through their doors unless you are masked, and we find that commendable. And the Associated Press has reported that certain cities in the Centennial State — Aspen, Wheat Ridge, Glenwood Springs, Boulder and, starting this week, Denver — have made it illegal to step out without appropriate protections. In the capital city, more than 3,300 people have been infected with the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and Mayor Michael Hancock said April 30 he would issue a public health order making it a punishable act to go out bare-faced.

Don't expect to see such mandates coming to Colorado Springs any time soon. Mayor John Suthers made it clear in March that he wouldn't issue a stay-at-home order for the city, and has as of this writing made no overtures to mandate masks.

[pullquote-1] So it becomes doubly important that you do your part.

And lest you think we're being preachy, here's a look at the company policy here at Colorado Publishing House (the parent company of the Indy). Our company policy dictates that, as we implement 50 percent office occupancy among staffers who aren't taking care of families or considered high-risk for infection, anyone who is in a shared space must have his or her nose and mouth covered. We're keeping the doors closed to the public through at least the end of the month, and whenever we do open again (it's really a priority), please expect to have your face covered.

This isn't to be smug, it's to be safe.

There's a cliché that certain advocacy groups like to quote: "Your liberty ends where mine begins." Misquote of Oliver Wendell Holmes aside (the late Supreme Court justice actually said "Your liberty to swing your fist ends just where my nose begins"), the point remains valid: you have the freedom to choose whether or not to protect the public good ... right up to the point where you could be infecting others.

Do the right thing for your friends, your loved ones, your colleagues and your community. When you're out in public, wear the mask.