Despite rising cases of COVID-19 and deaths (16 since Monday), Pueblo County elected officials want to ease restrictions on local businesses like restaurants and bars.
On Tuesday, both Pueblo County Commissioners and Pueblo City Councilmen voted unanimously in approval of a resolution to support the 5 Star Certification Program in Pueblo.
If a business goes above and beyond certain COVID-19 safety protocols, they are able to operate at 50% capacity. All businesses can apply, but not all will be permitted.
The program in Pueblo County still requires approval from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
"It needs to happen as soon as possible," said Heather Graham, the owner of two Pueblo restaurants called 'Graham's Grill' and the new downtown bar 'Ruby's'.
Since Pueblo County was moved to Safer at Home: Level Red, she says her business has greatly suffered. Both restaurants reverted back to curb side only and closed their dining area like they did earlier in the year, however, business is at the worst point this year.
Heather Graham is confidant her business will be eligible for the program.
"When state guidelines first came out with the temperature checking, the symptom recording, we've done all of that," said Graham.
But protocols are strict, and 5-Star Businesses could have their status taken away. Some of the protocols include:
- 100% mask-wearing among staff and customers "with strong compliance and enforcement protocols"
- Daily symptom checks for all employees
- Encouraging staff and guests to activate "Exposure Notifications"
- Contact tracing
For restaurants, tables could be required to remain 10 feet apart from each other, not the standard 6 feet. For Graham that's just a bit too far.
"Restaurants in Pueblo are very small," said Graham. "If tables are ten feet apart from one another you might be lucky to get two tables in the restaurant."
The Five Star Certification program even has the support of local health officials. Parkview Medical Center, which has been dealing with capacity issues for weeks due to rising COVID-19 numbers, supports the Certification Program.
In a statement to KRDO News Channel 13 Rachel Morris with Parkview Medical Center said the following:
'Parkview supports the businesses that have worked hard and effectively to follow the rules and guidelines to keep our community safe during this pandemic. They should not be penalized for the behavior of others.'