Colorado to relax social, business coronavirus restrictions

Vials containing swabs used in nasal tests for COVID-19 are collected for transport to a laboratory after being administered outside the State Capitol to lawmakers and other state employees as well as any other individuals who requested to take the test Monday, June 15, 2020, in Denver.

Douglas County will be allowed to have indoor gatherings up to a maximum of 175 people and outdoor gatherings of up to 250 people under a variance from Colorado’s “safer-at-home” guidance that the state’s health department approved on Friday.

“This variance approval is granted based on the facts and circumstances today as you have described them in your request,” wrote Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Additionally, CDPHE reserves the right to modify or rescind this variance approval as circumstances warrant.”

Hunsaker Ryan noted that her sign-off on Douglas County’s proposal lasts until Wednesday, when she said the amended Public Health Order 20-28 expires. That directive, issued on June 18, limits outdoor venues to 175 people and indoors to 100. The variance applies to events, pools and “life rites.” 

She denied the parts of the county’s request for recreational league sports and tournaments, limiting capacity to “50 players at any given time.” Receptions, movie theaters, libraries and performances must follow the capacity variance granted. Even with the variance, events must not exceed 50% of the posted occupancy limit.

“Our goal in the pursuit of these variances was to help our citizens return to a more familiar lifestyle, while also allowing additional sectors of our business community to reopen,” said Board of County Commissioners Chair Roger Partridge. “We are especially grateful to the citizens of Douglas County for adhering to the behaviors that led to the favorable public health data that supported this outcome.”

The county submitted its request with COVID-19 case data as of June 10. Then, there were 764 people infected, with 46 deaths. As of June 27, that number had increased to 939 infections with 52 deaths. Residents in Douglas County comprised 3.5% of the total deaths in the state.

Hunsaker Ryan warned that if Douglas County exceeded 5% percent positivity in its population, it would need to implement a mitigation plan. At the time of the variance, she said the two-week average positivity rate was 3.06%.

Although Colorado had an average of 128 new COVID-19 cases as recently as June 15, daily infections have more than doubled to 271 as of Saturday.

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