Gov. Jared Polis announced new restrictions Tuesday for restaurants and gyms that could take effect in counties seeing exponential growth of COVID-19 cases, such as El Paso County.
However, he did not name the counties where the new rules will go into effect, except to say he expected 10 to 15 counties to move to the new rules and the changes to be made in coordinated ways across regions.
The new rules close indoor dining at restaurants and leave them open to takeout and delivery or outdoor dining for parties from the same household, he said. The restrictions would also limit occupancy at gyms to 10% with a reservations system, Polis said. Gyms and restaurants in El Paso County are currently limited to 25%.
The measures are intended to turn around the exponential spread of the COVID-19 and rise in hospitalizations that is putting pressure on hospitals that are struggling with staff.
"We are taking action to prevent a catastrophic breach of healthcare," Polis said.
The new rules are part of a new level of the state's dial that indicates what measures counties should be taking to limit the spread of the virus. The new level red is based on the number of people who have the virus per 100,000 over two weeks and the number of people on average testing positive for it, Polis said.
A lockdown in a county, now known as level purple, would be triggered by hospitals getting overwhelmed by patients, Polis said.
The announcement comes one day after UCHealth announced it was starting to implement surge capacity measures to expand how patients it can care for because of the rising number of patients.
This story is developing and will be updated.