Say what you will about the past six weeks of Level Red restrictions that put strict limits on restaurants and other businesses, but they appear to have worked. Late on December 30, Governor Jared Polis sent out a note on social media stating that key COVID-19 metrics have been declining and, as a result, he's asking the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to move all Level Red counties (which include Denver and the surrounding metro counties) to Level Orange beginning Monday, January 4.
That's great news for restaurants, since they will be able to reopen dining rooms — which have been closed since November 20 in Red Level counties — at 25 percent capacity, with a last call for alcohol at 10 p.m.
Here's the complete message from Governor Polis:
Throughout this pandemic, we have had to walk a difficult line between the public health crisis and the economic crisis. In reviewing the data today, Colorado has been in a sustained decline for 13 days, and only 73% of ICU beds statewide are in use. This is a direct result of Coloradans stepping up and taking the steps to protect themselves and others. In light of this and based on the data, I'm asking CDPHE to move counties in Red on the dial to Orange, effective Monday, January 4, 2021.
This only applies to counties in Red, which is the category designed to prevent us from having to lockdown in “purple”. And I’m excited we have thus far successfully avoided another lockdown. To save lives, maybe even your own, it is more important than ever that Coloradans not gather outside their household to celebrate the New Year, and to continue to take the basic steps to protect themselves and others, like wearing masks, only interacting with their own households, and staying 6ft apart from others when in public.
But while Red Level counties will definitely be able to move down the dial, they won't be able to move two notches — even if they've passed the 5 Star State Certification Program.
On December 31, the state sent a clarification to the Colorado Restaurant Association that restaurants with 5 Star Certification will not be able to move to Level Yellow restrictions, even if the county they're located in moves from Level Red to Level Orange on Monday, January 4.
The CRA responded by sending this note to members:
On the heels of Governor Polis's announcement that all Level Red counties would move to Level Orange on Monday, January 4, there are a lot of unanswered questions and there is a lot of confusion among state and local public health officials, and city and county lawmakers. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is working on an FAQ. We expect it to be out today or tomorrow and will send it out as soon as we have it.
5-STAR CERTIFIED BUSINESSES: We have received clarification that restaurants that have been certified, and whose counties are moving from Level Red to Level Orange, will NOT move to LEVEL YELLOW. THEY WILL REMAIN IN LEVEL ORANGE, AS THEIR COUNTY IS TECHNICALLY IN RED, BUT ACTING IN ORANGE. CDPHE is telling us that those restaurants will likely want to continue their other increased standards that have been created because if their county truly goes into a new, less restrictive, level after two weeks, those businesses will automatically move up a level. If a county goes down back into RED, these restaurants would stay in ORANGE.
We are getting clarification on allowed spacing between parties for those in Red, moving to Orange – whether it is 6 feet or 10 feet. CDPHE does not yet have an answer for us but is working on it now.
This is a moving target – and all of this may change in a few hours – but AS SOON AS WE GET AN UPDATE, WE’LL LET YOU KNOW.
Please understand that we know this lack of information is frustrating. It is extremely frustrating for us, too, and we are receiving many phone calls and emails that we are not able to answer. Unfortunately, state health officials also cannot yet answer these questions. More to come soon!
This story has been updated to include the state's clarification, as well as the CRA message to members.
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