Brittany Bowlen, Sept. 8, 2020

Brittany Bowlen joins Gov. Jared Polis at his Sept. 8, 2020 news conference. 

Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday announced an agreement with the Denver Broncos that will allow 5,700 fans, in groups of 175, to be in the stands when the Broncos play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and quarterback Tom Brady on Sept. 27.

Polis was joined by Brittany Bowlen, the Broncos vice president for strategic initiatives. Those allowed in will be primarily season ticket holders who will be entered into a lottery, weighted by priority number, Bowlen explained. A limited number of half-price tickets will also be available, although she didn't say how that would happen.

In the weeks to follow, additional fans will be allowed to attend, Polis said. 

Bowlen said the agreement had been worked out with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. "The players have continued to use their platform to set the right example for our community, "she added. "Fans are a big part of our team. They bring our entire building to life. that's why we're excited to welcome back a limited number of season ticket holders with many health and safety enhancements in place."

Empower Field will look and feel very different this season, Bowlen said. In addition to masks and social distancing, seating will be done in small pods and sections broken into groups. Restrooms and concessions will be touchless and cashless. "Our organization is hopeful this is the start to gradually increasing fans at Broncos games," Bowlen said. 

Could high school football be far behind? Polis said if schools want to propose a fall football season through the Colorado High School Athletics Association, "we would be thrilled to work with them to make it happen."

This applies to school districts that are doing in-person learning and so long as it doesn't interfere with students getting back into the classroom, the governor explained.

Polis also announced that the state will partner with Google and Apple on EN Express, a contact tracing app that will be free and automatically downloaded on Apple devices and available for download for Android devices. Sarah Tuneburg, the director of the governor's innovation response team, said it will be up to individual users on whether to enable the app. No information will be tracked or shared. 

The app works like this: two people could be meeting, wearing masks, but one later develops symptoms of COVID-19. If the app is enabled on both phones, a token would be exchanged between the two. Once someone tests positive for COVID, the other person would be notified that they had been exposed, along with information on resources, including testing. The token does not contain individual information and would drop off after 14 days, Tuneburg said. 

A similar product has been used very effectively in South Korea and helped quickly stem that country's outbreak. Colorado will be the first in the nation to try it out, a launch planned for the end of the month.

Three counties this week — Gilpin, Mesa and Rio Blanco — have been given permission to go to the final stage of reopening, known as Protect Our Neighbors. That could be big news for casinos in Gilpin County, which have been barred from offering table games, but under Protect Our Neighbors could host up to 500 patrons. 

Polis was asked if his decision to allow Broncos fans to attend games was a sign of favoritism. Jefferson County Public health is again suing Bandimere Speedway for holding an event that organizer Michelle Malkin said exceeded 5,500 people. Polis said the Broncos are playing by the same rules as any other large event, with a series of 175 people in a very large outdoor setting. "That provides a framework for larger events that have cohort groups with distinct entry points. We encourage everybody, including Bandimere, to find a way to do that safely."

Randy Corporon, an attorney who represents Malkin and Republican Rep. Patrick Neville of Castle Rock in a lawsuit against the state over the mask mandate, was in attendance at the press conference, according to a tweet from 9News' Marshall Zellinger. 

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