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A closed sign hangs in the door of a Denver business. 

Two Denver metro counties are the latest to become eligible for the statewide 5-Star State Certification Program that allows businesses to operate at a higher capacity rate than the state's COVID-19 dial allows.

Arapahoe and Broomfield counties join Douglas, Larimer and Summit counties as counties to be deemed eligible for the statewide program since its launch on Dec. 18.

The newly approved counties are currently within the state's Level Red classification, but businesses that are certified by the individual county's administrative committee will be allowed to operate dining and indoor events at 25%.

"We're pleased that our COVID case numbers have decreased enough to enable Arapahoe County to be granted the variance that will allow us to launch the Five-Star program while the County is in the Red Dial Position," said Nancy Sharp, Arapahoe County Board Chair.

Restaurants and other businesses in Arapahoe County are can now apply for the program, but inspections that will certify applicants won't start until next week, said Luc Hatlestad, a public information officer for the county.

Inspectors will look at each individual business's health and safety protocols that will mitigate the spread of COVID-19, ventilation requirements and protocols to support the residents most at-risk.

Carolyn Romero, a spokesperson for Broomfield County, said applications to businesses will open Monday, and county officials have began reviewing over 30 applications received as of Wednesday.

Businesses certified by the county's administrative committee will be notified in the county's initial round of certification on Jan. 8, Romero said.

Arapahoe County submitted its application to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on Dec. 22. County officials learned they were eligible Wednesday evening from CDPHE officials after COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and positivity rate declined over a 14-day period. 

Broomfield County previously learned they were eligible for the program on Dec. 23 and applied to join several days later. 

Several more counties have become eligible to implement the program, the criteria required has kept several counties, including Adams, Boulder and Denver counties, from applying. 

Tammy Vigil, a spokesperson for the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, told The Denver Gazette in an email statement Wednesday that they do not plan to apply until mid-January.

Meanwhile, officials from Boulder County Public Health are attempting to find the resources to implement the program, said Chana Goussetis, a spokesperson for Boulder County Public Health.

Jefferson County has applied and still have not heard from CDPHE about their application, said Julie Story a spokesperson for the county

Although businesses in Arapahoe and Broomfield counties will not open until next week at the earliest, county officials are excited that businesses will potentially reopen.

"This will provide a consistent method for reopening area businesses in a way that will help them earn more revenue and get their employees back to work, while also helping their customers and our communities control the spread of COVID-19," said Sharp. 

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