After dozens of Larimer County businesses said they would buck tighter rules intended to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the Colorado health department is developing a “best practices certification program” that might eventually allow them to operate at greater capacity.
The businesses said they would not abide by rules that went into effect as Larimer County moved from “level yellow” to “level red” restrictions on Tuesday.
Red-level “Stay at Home” rules ban indoor dining at restaurants, all indoor entertainment events and all personal gatherings among people from different households. They also severely limit capacity at churches, gyms and most other businesses.
Some Larimer County lawmakers have asked Gov. Jared Polis and state health department officials to make available to them a “5-star” certification that Mesa County has in place. It allows businesses to operate with greater capacity as long as they show they are following certain guidelines.
On Friday, the health department released a draft plan for such a program. But whether it will be available to businesses in red-level counties won’t be decided until after a review of several weeks of data from Mesa County’s program, a news release stated.
Mesa County has been given a variance to operate its 5 Star program for 12 days despite being a red-level county.
“This pilot will provide needed data on if a 5 Star program is compatible with suppression goals of The Red Level,” according to the draft plan. “This data will inform the state framework for when 5 Star businesses can operate for other counties.”
The health department wants public input on the draft plan, based on Mesa County’s program that has been in place since summer. Comments are due by Dec. 4.
Draft of ‘best practices’ plan for businesses
Under, blue, yellow and orange “Safer at Home” levels, business owners would be able to operate at capacities greater than those levels currently allow. The program wouldn’t be available to counties in the most severe category, purple. The Colorado health department is evaluating whether it might be available to counties in the red level in the future.
The program would, according to an initial proposal, require participating businesses to:
- Have a written plan for how it will meet or exceed state and local prevention plans
- Have 100% mask wearing among staff and customers
- Perform daily symptom checks
- Conduct outreach to employees and customers about the exposure notifications app
- Record names and contact numbers for customers, for the purpose of contact tracing
- In restaurants, reservations are required, with 10 feet spacing between tables.
- In gyms and personal services businesses, reservations are required.
- Businesses with citations for public health violations are not eligible.
Rebecca Powell is a content strategist at the Coloradoan, working to connect our community with the answers they seek. Contact her at RebeccaPowell@coloradoan.com. We can’t do the important work of keeping our community informed without you. Support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.