When is it time for Colorado to reopen businesses fully? A Denver7 360 look

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DENVER — More than 8% of Americans and 8.5% of Coloradans are now vaccinated with at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. As more and more become immunized an important question follows: when can Coloradans get back to our normal lives?

In this 360, doctors, politicians, business owners and Coloradans answer when they feel is the best time to reopen.

“As spring comes, we’re all excited for what’s ahead,” said Patrick Crawford, a co-owner of Denver Beer Company. On Wednesday his company unveiled a new beer called ‘Love This City’ to pay tribute to the good times ahead. But even he is reluctant to open too soon.

“I don’t know when we should reopen, but I definitely think we need to look at the science behind it,” Crawford said.

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At least one of his customers agree.

“I really kind of value the way that Colorado is following what the science and medical doctors are saying and doing things in a safe way,” Chris Norman said while in the Denver Beer Company taproom. “It really is gonna depend on the roll out of the vaccine and people continuing to social distance.”

In the early days of the pandemic, the metrics for reopening were based on hospital capacity and infection rates. Now, those numbers are looking good. Cases of coronavirus are declining and vaccine supply is increasing.

But medical experts say it’s not enough to open completely just yet.

“The vaccine is certainly going to help. But as you know that the vaccine is not in most people yet,” said Dr. Eric Lung, the chief medical officer at Sky Ridge Medical Center. “The reason the numbers are where they are is because of what we have been doing for months.”

Especially with new variants, Lung said Coloradans need to wait a little longer until more people are vaccinated before opening up fully.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called the move to relax restrictions in states like Florida and Texas “risky” as new variants spread. National experts agree herd immunity will not be reached until at least 80% of the population is vaccinated or immune from the disease.

But many Republican politicians say any day waiting to reopen is too long.

“I think the time to reopen is now,” Republican state Rep. Patrick Neville. “I think we’re at a point now where we should actually start trusting our citizens and moving the goalposts on them.”

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The philosophical difference in how to govern in a pandemic has played out for the past year. It has split along the lines of public safety versus individual freedom. But Rep. Neville, who sued Gov. Jared Polis over the statewide mask mandate, said they are not mutually exclusive.

“In general terms, it seems like there’s an authoritarian approach on this,” Neville said. “I think a better approach is actually trusting the individuals to make better decisions for themselves.”

Polis said in a press conference on Tuesday that ‘normal’ may come soon enough.

“We are very hopeful that people who want the vaccine will be able to access that in April and May — in time to have a summer that allows them to enjoy everything that Colorado has to offer,” he said, highlighting the importance of continued vaccinations. “The things that have saved lives and prevented disease transmission these last 12 months are even more important now than ever before.”