As COVID-19 rates ramp up in nearby states, Colorado is coming back to life...and Denver seems positively lively.
Restaurants are hosting live music. Some clubs and venues are holding outdoor events. Library book drops are accepting returns. Some galleries are open. People are wandering through the Denver Botanic Gardens and the Denver Zoo. Next week, History Colorado and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science will be back in business.
Now the City and County of Denver will be opening up even more thanks to a June 17 decision by the Colorado Department of Public and Health and Environment to approve county-requested variances to the state's safer-at-home regulations.
"The variances were approved by CDPHE based on the city’s current prevalence of COVID-19," Denver's pandemic-response team explains in a statement. "The city also needed to demonstrate that it has a strong public-health surveillance system, sufficient hospital capacity, and appropriate thresholds for rolling back the variance if conditions worsen."
As Governor Jared Polis explained on June 15, these decisions are all based on the availability of hospital beds and whether the medical system can handle the rate of COVID-19 cases.
The approved variance requests include alternative guidelines from the state's safer-at-home order regarding the opening of museums, restaurants, the Cherry Creek Mall, Four Mile Park, indoor pools, recreation centers, gyms, and horse competitions at the National Western Complex.
"CDPHE has deemed that variance locations should not exceed more than 50 people gathered in a room or 'confined indoor space' at any given time, and not exceed 125 people in an outdoor space," the city's statement notes.
The state's approved variances for the City and County of Denver include:
- Museums may operate at 50% occupancy with up to 50 people per room and not to exceed 125 people in an outdoor space. Museums can open under this variance after submitting their reopening plan to the city for review and approval
- Restaurants may operate at 50% occupancy with up to 50 people in a confined indoor space (as opposed to the Safer at Home statewide limitation of 50 people for the entire restaurant)
- The Cherry Creek Mall may open the indoor mall, and stores within Cherry Creek Mall may operate at 50% occupancy
- Gyms, recreation centers and indoor pools may operate at 50% occupancy with up to 50 people in a confined space
- Horse competitions at the National Western Complex can occur with activities limited to 50 people and no spectator shows
All these changes take place immediately.
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In addition to this state-inspired news, the city announced that the Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure has approved immediate street closures along Larimer Street and Glenarm Place, allowing restaurants to provide more space for physical distancing between customers.
Closures have been approved for the 1400 block of Larimer Street (Larimer Square), and on Glenarm Place between 15th and 17th streets.
All of this is good news...assuming businesses and customers are able to comply with the CDPHE guidelines and ensure that there isn't a COVID-19 spike in Denver.
For more information about Denver's response to COVID-19, go to the city's website.