A survey conducted by the town of Bayfield shows residents do not want a mandatory mask order to be issued by the town.
Public health officials say face coverings reduce transmission of the coronavirus, and some communities have issued mandatory orders to limit the virus’ spread. The public, however, has questioned their effectiveness or described them as an infringement of personal rights.
In Bayfield, not only do residents oppose an order, they are divided about face coverings in general, according to the survey released Wednesday.
“My main takeaway is we should always go with what the people want, and the people don’t want the mandatory mask order,” said Brenna Morlan, town trustee.
About 1,045 Bayfield residents responded to the survey, almost half of the town’s population of about 2,700 people.
Of those, 73% said the town should not consider mandatory face coverings. About 57% of residents said the town should not encourage residents to wear face coverings in public.
The respondents also did not think an order would help prevent a second COVID-19 infection event in Bayfield. Most felt they were already doing their part to prevent the spread of the disease and expected others to do the same without a mandatory face-covering regulation.
“I’m not surprised at all. I thought this would be the response,” Morlan said. “I wear a mask in public to protect others from me, but that’s my decision.”
Bayfield launched the survey June 4 after the board of trustees discussed the idea at the June 2 board meeting. While board members encouraged wearing face masks, several did not think an order was necessary during the meeting.
Trustees also noted that the town does not see the same levels of tourism as Durango. The board members chose to wait to discuss an order, preferring to observe the virus’ impact on the community in coming weeks and hear feedback from the community.
The city of Durango is the only municipality in La Plata County to issue a mandatory face-covering order. The city based its decision primarily on increased tourism from outside of town and projections that COVID-19 cases would increase over coming weeks.
San Juan Basin Public Health has extended its face-covering advisory, which urges but does not require masks, to the end of June.