Whether some counties can give businesses a seal of approval and let them skip tougher state-imposed restrictions landed firmly on the governor’s desk Wednesday, as Larimer and Douglas lawmakers asked the state for permission to join a form of COVID-19 “pre-check” running in Mesa County.
Mesa County, where virus cases have risen sharply in recent weeks and new restrictions followed tighter rules in much of the state, certifies businesses that demonstrate stricter COVID-19 precautions for employees and customers, even advertising for them in local media as “5-star” trusted partners.
Larimer County businesses said they would openly defy new red-level closures that took effect locally on Tuesday, while state lawmakers representing the county sent a letter to Gov. Jared Polis asking for relief and specifically demanding to join Mesa County’s initiative.
“Letting communities make local decisions will always lead to new and innovative ways of doing business,” said state Sen. Rob Woodward (R-Loveland), one of the signatories. “Mesa County is at the forefront of finding solutions to keep businesses open even though they have moved to level red. We need to protect businesses in Larimer County and thanks to the innovation in Mesa County we have a blueprint in front of us that Larimer County needs to implement.”
There was no immediate response from the governor or the state health department Wednesday afternoon. Polis warned Tuesday that restaurants and other businesses that defy public health orders could lose their licenses. Even for Mesa County, state health officials appear queasy about the exceptions, warning county commissioners the variances may leave too many virus transmission paths open at a critical time.
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