COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is looking at a plan that would loosen COVID-19 restrictions for eligible businesses based on safety practices, and it could have an effect on hundreds of establishments in counties under Safer at Home: Level Red guidelines.
CDPHE's new plan, unveiled Friday, is just a draft at this point, but the agency is seeking public input on the program before December 4.
The certification program would allow businesses to open with an increased capacity if they meet a list of criteria for COVID-19 safety guidelines. It's based on Mesa County's Variance Protection Program, which has dozens of businesses certified to open with more capacity than what's recommended by Colorado's COVID-19 Dial Dashboard.
Essentially, this program would let approved businesses move down a level on the dial; for example: approved businesses in Level Orange counties would be able to operate at Level Yellow capacities, businesses in Level Yellow counties can operate at Level Blue capacities, and Level Blue counties can operate with an additional 35 people added to their cap.
One of the things that the state is looking at, however, is if this program can be effective in counties under Level Red guidelines, including El Paso and Pueblo counties and many counties in the Denver metroplex. That decision is expected to be made by December 4th based on public input and data from Mesa County's program. Mesa County currently has a variance to test out the program for 12 days while in Level Red.
Some of the guidelines to be eligible for the program 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
Restaurants would have to require reservations, and table spacing would have to be at least 10 feet apart for indoor dining.
The draft guidelines say that any business cited for noncompliance with a public health or der is ineligible to be certified. We asked CDPHE if previous outbreaks affect eligibility, and a spokesperson responded saying "the discussion draft doesn't specifically mention outbreaks, but we are soliciting feedback on the various elements that are or may need to be included."