Denver dropping mask or proof of vaccine requirement: Omicron has ‘run out of fuel’

Mayor says coronavirus cases, positivity rate and hospitalizations all declining

Denver’s mask or proof of vaccine requirement to enter businesses is set to expire this week as health officials in Colorado say the omicron coronavirus variant has "run out of fuel within our community." 

The development comes as residents in the capital of Colorado have reached a 78% vaccination rate, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced Monday, adding that "this virus is something we are going to have to manage and learn to live with." 

"Following extensive discussions with our regional partners as well as current health advice and the downward trajectory of cases, positivity and hospitalizations, Denver will not be extending our public health order," Hancock said during a press conference. "So beginning Friday, people will no longer be required under the public health order to wear masks or show proof of vaccination for entry into a business in Denver." 

A sign advises visitors of rules in place to combat the spread of coronavirus along a walkway leading to the Children's Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus on Thursday, Jan. 27, in Denver. The popular museum temporarily closed last week because of escalating harassment of staff by adult visitors angry over a city-ordered mandate requiring anyone age 2 and older to wear a mask in indoor public spaces. The museum will remain closed until Friday, Feb. 4. 

A sign advises visitors of rules in place to combat the spread of coronavirus along a walkway leading to the Children's Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus on Thursday, Jan. 27, in Denver. The popular museum temporarily closed last week because of escalating harassment of staff by adult visitors angry over a city-ordered mandate requiring anyone age 2 and older to wear a mask in indoor public spaces. The museum will remain closed until Friday, Feb. 4.  (AP/David Zalubowski)

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However, mask requirements in places such as schools and childcare facilities will "remain in place for the time being," Hancock also said. 

"We simply feel it’s important to keep our schools open and our children in class. Being in that classroom is critical to their development, so we want to make sure they are able to do so as safely as possible," he continued. 

The downtown Denver skyline, photographed from the Jacquard Hotel rooftop in Denver, Colorado on Nov. 15, 2018.  

The downtown Denver skyline, photographed from the Jacquard Hotel rooftop in Denver, Colorado on Nov. 15, 2018.   (Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)

Organizations in the Denver area also may decide to keep the mask or proof of vaccine requirements in place after the public health order expires and are "well within their rights to do so," Hancock said. 

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"Our modeling makes it very clear that lifting the face covering order now is safe," added Bob McDonald, the executive director of Denver's Department of Public Health and Environment. "Cases are going to continue to decline and what that says is that Omicron has run out of fuel within our community." 

Masks will still be required in places like the Denver International Airport.

Masks will still be required in places like the Denver International Airport. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images))

In addition to schools and childcare facilities, masks will remain required on public transportation and at Denver International Airport.