The idea of wearing masks to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus is still very controversial in the United States, but some state and local governments are now threatening legal penalties for people who are walking around in public places without wearing a mask.
Earlier this week, the city of Englewood, Colorado, issued an emergency order which requires citizens to wear masks. If charged under this law, violators could face up to a year in prison, depending upon the circumstances of the situation and whether or not the suspect is a repeat offender.
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The order was issued by Shawn Lewis of Englewood, and approved by the city council shortly after. The law will go to effect on Friday. All city residents over the years of five years old will be required to wear a mask in public that covers both their mouth and nose any time they enter a business or travel on public transportation.
Employees at these businesses and drivers for public transportation will also be required to wear masks. The first time someone is cited for not wearing a mask they will be fined $15, after that, it will move up to $25 for a second offense. However, there is a maximum penalty of $2,650 or up to 360 days in prison. People who are cited will have the option of pleading not guilty and requesting a trial.
This is one of many regions in Colorado that have passed laws requiring residents to wear face masks in public, but Englewood is threatening the most serious penalties. There is no statewide mandate for masks in Colorado, but many other states, including Pennsylvania, Texas, New York, and a growing list of other states have implemented mask mandates. For now, there are only a few select cities and counties in Colorado that are mandating masks.