COVID-19 Update: Inside New Rules for Camping, Libraries and More

The safer-at-home program that superseded the stay-at-home order instituted by Governor Jared Polis to fight the spread of COVID-19 has been amended to outline new rules related to private campgrounds, day camps and sports camps for children; curbside service for libraries; personal training at pools; and reopenings for ski areas.

The latest public-health order from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is the fourth in the state's response to the pandemic, and it won't last long. It expires on June 1, when it is expected to be incorporated into yet another version that will provide guidelines for residents as spring turns to summer.

But the document, released in tandem with a thirty-day extension of edicts related to voluntary and elective surgery (with some new revisions for dental practices based on advice from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) contains quite a bit of new material beyond the rules for the statewide reopening of restaurants for on-premises dining, which got under way yesterday, May 27.

Here's a breakdown:


Privately owned and operated campgrounds have been given the go-ahead to open as long as their operators "regularly clean and disinfect all common areas, such as bathrooms, in accordance with the CDPHE cleaning guidance," the order states. However, group facilities, pavilions, cabins and yurts will remain closed for now.

Campsites at such sites must be a minimum of six feet apart and should only be available by reservation. Moreover, site overseers are required to post signage reminding patrons about social distancing requirements. Likewise, the number of visitors to campground offices must be limited to a number allowing for six-foot gaps.


The rules related to kids' camps are the most extensive in the new order, with the following requirements for operators:
Prior to hosting a camp, the camp operators must create a plan that implements all of the following:

1. All activities, including recreation, transportation, and food service must comply with the following restrictions:

a. Groups of campers are limited to 25 or fewer outdoors, and 10 or fewer indoors per room, and shall not mix with other groups.
b. Six feet physical distancing is required at all times, which may limit further the size of the group due to the size of the space.
c. Require face coverings during transportation in camp vehicles to and from the camp.

2. For staff and camper health and safety:

a. Provide adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff who supervise and care for ill campers, staff, and volunteers.
b. Determine the staffing needs, including the availability of substitute staff if staff or volunteers become ill or are exposed.
c. Ensure space is available to isolate ill staff and campers (cots, bedding, restrooms, and supervision).
d. Ensure the on-call availability of a nurse or health care professional.
e. Establish protocols for responding and reporting cases to health care staff, local public health authorities, and CDPHE.
f. Prepare procedures for closures following a case or outbreak of COVID-19.
g. Provide access to or sufficient supplies of all of the following: public restrooms, drinkable water sources, and picnic or other eating areas during activities at outdoor locations; hand-washing/hand-sanitizing locations; and adequate cleaning and disinfecting supplies
h. Train camp staff and volunteers on the requirements of this Order, as well as prevention, transmission, and care of COVID-19 illness.

3. Single-night overnight excursions are permitted so long as the campers and staff remain strictly cohorted.

Camp operators must meet all of the following requirements while camps are in session:

1. Staff, volunteer and camper health.

a. Screen staff, volunteers and campers for symptoms and close-contact exposures upon arrival. Exclude ill individuals from the camp, and encourage them to use the CDPHE Symptom Tracker
b. Staff or volunteers sent home must adhere to isolation and exclusion requirements.
c. Establish protocols for staff, volunteers and campers to alert health care staff of symptoms in themselves or campers.
d. Determine if any staff or volunteers are at a higher risk for COVID-19 and consider whether job duties that don’t involve interaction with others are advisable.

2. Require staff, volunteers and campers to do all of the following:

a. Remain with the same group of campers and maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet whenever possible, including during meals and recreation;
b. Wash hands upon arrival, before eating, and at regular intervals throughout the day;
c. Stagger activities as much as possible to avoid any mixing of groups; and
d. Wear masks or face coverings whenever possible.

3. Post signs or mark spaces to ensure 6 foot minimum distancing, and limit any activities that are not conducive to maintaining this distance.

4. Educate campers as needed on COVID-19 prevention, including respiratory etiquette and good hygiene, in accordance with public health guidance.

5. Ensure sufficient cleaning and disinfecting of commonly touched surfaces, equipment, and vehicles throughout the camp.

6. Provide frequent communication with all families of enrolled campers related to the occurrences of COVID-19 at the camp, the camp’s responses, and all issues in the public health order.

The simple rules: "Libraries, both public and private, are limited to providing window service, walk-up service, drive-through service or curbside delivery."


Despite guerrilla actions like the Memorial Day political protest at a Jeffco park, where yellow caution tape was removed and replaced with American flags, the order stresses that playgrounds and playground equipment remain off limits — and the same goes for amusement parks and arcades.

However, personal training and classes in indoor settings such as indoor pools are being allowed again, so long as the settings "are limited to all members of a single household or a mixed group of four or fewer individuals complying with social-distancing requirements." Additionally, sharing equipment is prohibited except for members of a single household.


Resorts that want to reopen are required to create a plan for doing so and get approval from their local public-health agency before inviting customers back. But these procedures cannot include activities that would violate social-distancing requirements.

Arapahoe Basin reopened May 27 under those rules, but don't expect to see any other resorts join A-Basin this season.

Click to read the Colorado safer-at-home program's May 26 amendment and the amended regulations for voluntary and elective surgery.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts