Business

Even Boulder Is Over COVID-19 Masks

Neither customers nor servers were masked at the Snooze location on the Pearl Street Mall circa June 29.
Neither customers nor servers were masked at the Snooze location on the Pearl Street Mall circa June 29. Photo by Michael Roberts
Today, July 1, the University of Colorado Boulder formally ends its indoor mask requirements for most areas of campus, three weeks after the City of Boulder lifted its own mandate. And while Boulder's reputation as Colorado's most liberal community suggests that a significant portion of the population would continue wearing facial coverings anyhow — given that COVID-19 still hasn't been eradicated and children under twelve can't be vaccinated yet — we found that wasn't the case during a visit to the Pearl Street Mall on June 29.

And if Boulder is over masks, you know the rest of Colorado is.

We arrived at the Pearl Street Mall just after noon, and given the beautiful weather, it was no surprise the area was bustling. Over the next hour or so, we saw hundreds of patrons and pedestrians going in and out of stores or enjoying the sunshine. And during that span, we spotted fewer than twenty people wearing masks.

click to enlarge The woman on the right was among the few Pearl Street Mall patrons to wear a mask on June 29. - PHOTO BY MICHAEL ROBERTS
The woman on the right was among the few Pearl Street Mall patrons to wear a mask on June 29.
Photo by Michael Roberts
The exceptions included a number of elderly folks who were among the first demographic to be authorized for immunizations, back when vaccine supplies were limited and demand was strong.


We also saw several masked children in the company of their unmasked parents. This approach is recommended by many health experts to keep kids too young to be inoculated safe and prevent them from spreading the disease to more vulnerable individuals. But it's been rare, particularly in many suburban sections of the metro area.

Plenty of pandemic-era changes to the mall remain in place. For instance, a couple of blocks continue to be closed to traffic to accommodate outdoor dining — and lots of people were taking advantage of the opportunity. We didn't see anyone in a mask sitting at an outside table, and we didn't spot many servers in facial coverings, either.
click to enlarge Outdoor seating and street closures instituted during the pandemic remain in place on the Pearl Street Mall. - PHOTO BY MICHAEL ROBERTS
Outdoor seating and street closures instituted during the pandemic remain in place on the Pearl Street Mall.
Photo by Michael Roberts
The majority of businesses on the mall had common signage letting potential customers know they didn't need to put on a mask if they were vaccinated, and a sizable percentage boasted a second placard declaring that their staff was 100 percent immunized.

The venerable Boulder Book Store made this last declaration in a personalized notice at its entrance: "Our Booksellers are fully vaccinated."

Nonetheless, the book store was the most mask-heavy business we entered. All but one of the employees we saw wore a medical mask, as did four or five customers. Apparently someone's been reading up on the Delta variant spikes in Colorado: According to the latest data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, sixteen Delta variant cases have been confirmed in Boulder County.

click to enlarge Signage outside the Boulder Book Store makes it clear that all employees have been vaccinated. - PHOTO BY MICHAEL ROBERTS
Signage outside the Boulder Book Store makes it clear that all employees have been vaccinated.
Photo by Michael Roberts
As  I noted in "Ten Kinds of Vaccinated People Still Wearing Masks," I've been working on increasing my comfort level when going into public places. So I wore a cloth mask around my neck that I could easily raise should a business require one for entry, but tried to leave it down otherwise — and for the most part, I succeeded in doing so.

There was one exception: Inside Paradise Found, the updated version of Bart's CD Cellar & Record Shop that debuted on the mall a couple of months back, I was pawing through 45 rpm records for my jukebox when an unmasked bro set up camp a couple of feet from me — which was initially fine. But I put my mask on after he started coughing. Hell, I'm not made of stone!

When I looked around, though, I didn't see anyone else masking up, despite this guy's hacking. Clearly, Boulder has entered the post-pandemic era, whether the pandemic is officially over or not.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts