COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- New changes to Colorado's vaccination plan will allow some groups access to the COVID-19 vaccine earlier than expected, while pushing others back.
Phase 1B.3, which begins on Friday, includes people age 60 or older, those with two or more high-risk conditions and essential grocery and agricultural workers.
Restaurant workers, who were previously included in the next phase have been moved back to 1B.4, along with other groups.
"We were extremely frustrated and frankly shocked," Colorado Restaurant Association President Sonia Riggs said. "Just a few hours before, we were told by the Governor's staff and, frankly the day before, by the Governor himself that we were still in the same category for vaccinations as grocery store workers."
In a news conference Friday, Governor Jared Polis said the decision to move restaurant employees to 1B.4 is based on vaccine supply and demand.
"I think it would have led to additional frustration, if we told people they could get it March 5th and in fact the vaccines weren't there for them," Polis said.
Regardless, Riggs said it's a huge blow to an industry already hit hard by the pandemic.
"In fact, about half tell us under current restrictions, if things don't change, they're going to have to consider closing permanently within a few months. So, this is certainly concerning."
The state's changes also allowed other groups to move up in line, including colleges and universities. Faculty will now be eligible for the vaccine alongside restaurant workers during phase 1B.4, beginning March 21st.
In a statement, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs said, "We're pleased the Governor is prioritizing vaccines for student-facing faculty and staff in higher education. The creation of this new phase will positively impact UCCS, moving our campus closer to getting students back in the classroom. We look forward to working with El Paso County Health officials as Phase 1B.4 grows closer.”