July 31, 2021 - Colorado's Fifth Amended Public Health Order 20-38


1. Face coverings are required for unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated patients, residents, and visitors, and medical grade face masks are required for unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated staff in the following settings that serve vulnerable or at-risk populations:

a. Homeless shelters
b. Prisons;
c. Jails; and
d. Emergency medical and other healthcare settings (including hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, urgent care centers, clinics, doctors’ offices, and non-urgent care medical structures).
2. Exceptions to the face covering requirements include:

a. individuals 11 years of age or younger,
b. individuals who cannot medically tolerate a face covering, and
c. individuals participating in one of the following activities:
i. individuals who are hearing impaired or otherwise disabled or who are communicating with someone who is hearing impaired or otherwise disabled and where the ability to see the mouth is essential to communication;
ii. individuals who enter a business or receive services and are asked to temporarily remove a face covering for identification purposes;
iii. individuals who are actively engaged in a public safety role, such as law enforcement officers, firefighters, or emergency medical personnel; or
iv. individuals who are officiating or participating in a life rite or religious service where the temporary removal of a face covering is necessary to complete or participate in the life rite or religious service.


Nothing in this Order changes or abrogates the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Order on January 29, 2021, requiring the wearing of masks by travelers to prevent the spread of COVID-19. All Coloradans must abide by the CDC’s Order, which can be found here. 

Purpose of Face Coverings or Masks

People who have the virus but do not have symptoms can spread the virus without knowing it. This can happen in two situations:

  • Asymptomatic spread: transmission of the virus by people who have it and never develop symptoms
  • Pre-symptomatic spread: transmission of the virus by people who have it and do not feel sick but will eventually start to have symptoms

The purpose of a cloth face covering is to protect others around you in case you have the virus but don't know it. Cloth face coverings should:

  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • Include multiple layers of fabric, allow for breathing without restriction
  • Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

Face coverings help to reduce air droplets that are breathed out onto others when we talk, sneeze or cough which may spread COVID-19 when someone doesn't know they have the virus.

Face Shields

It is not known if face shields provide any benefit as source control to protect others from the spray of respiratory particles. CDC does not recommend the use of face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for cloth face coverings. 

Some people may choose to use a face shield when sustained close contact with other people is expected. If face shields are used without a mask, they should wrap around the sides of the wearer’s face and extend to below the chin. Disposable face shields should only be worn for a single use. Reusable face shields should be cleaned and disinfected after each use. Plastic face shields for newborns and infants are NOT recommended.

Frequently Asked Questions about Face Coverings and Masks

Gyms can now make their own policies around mask-wearing, so be sure to check your gym's current policy.

According to the Mayo Clinic Health System, “for many years, health care providers have worn masks for extended periods of time with no adverse health reactions ... there is no risk of hypoxia, which is lower oxygen levels, in healthy adults. Carbon dioxide will freely diffuse through your mask as you breathe.”

Essentially, this means a person who has trouble breathing or anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face-covering without assistance, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read more from the CDC about other reasons face coverings may not be possible in every situation or for some people. 


Wash your cloth masks regularly with your regular laundry and allow them to dry completely before wearing again.

It is not known if face shields provide any benefit to protect others from the spray of respiratory particles from the person wearing the shield. CDC does not recommend use of face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for cloth face coverings. Critical/essential workers cannot substitute a cloth face covering with a face shield but may wear a face shield with a face covering for additional protection.