Shoppers wear masks in Manitou Springs

In this Gazette file photo, shoppers wear masks in downtown Manitou Springs in May 2020.

Manitou Springs on Wednesday lifted its mask order that was designed to slow the spread of coronavirus, said Alex Trefry, a spokesman for the town.

As the sole municipality in El Paso County to mandate masks after a state mandate expired last month, Manitou Springs cited the need to protect workers and residents from COVID-19 as the town's tourist season ramped up. Masks had been required inside businesses and outdoors when people weren't able to keep six feet apart.

The town mask mandate came complete with plans to fine scofflaws, with a $25 ticket for the first offense and a $50 penalty for repeat offenders.

The mandate and its fines were gone Wednesday, but the city said businesses could set their own standards for customers and workers.

"The decision to require face coverings is available to our individual businesses, and we are strongly urging our residents and visitors to respect their rules and guidelines," Trefry said in an email.

State and federal health officials have eased mask guidance for people vaccinated against the virus, but still recommend masks for those who haven't been inoculated.

El Paso County's coronavirus case load is in decline with more than 289,000 residents vaccinated against the virus, El Paso County Public Health records show.

Since March 2020, 835 El Paso County residents have died from the virus, according to health department statistics.

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@JessySnouwaert

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