DENVER — Colorado has changed the COVID-19 dial system as of Wednesday morning to allow counties to have more flexibility in easing business restrictions as the state vaccinates more people.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) says that by mid-April, it will again make changes to “move to a more local model, allowing local public health agencies to assume more control over capacity restrictions that are currently determined by the dial.” It last changed the dial in early February.
“Coloradans have made significant sacrifices to reduce disease transmission, so it is time to update the dial to reflect this reality, plus the increasing number of people who are immunized,” said CDPHE Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan. “This updated proposal is based on Colorado's disease and vaccination rates, plus input from local public health agencies and local governments, and we are seeking the public's help to refine it further.”
Among the changes are:
- No more state limits on personal gathering sizes, but a request that people follow the CDC’s guidance to avoid large gatherings.
- Counties will be able to apply for the least restrictive phase, Level Green, if they have 35 or fewer COVID cases per 100,000 people. The metric had previously been 15 cases per 100,000 people.
- In Level Green, bars, gyms and indoor event spaces will be able to operate at 50% capacity of up to 500 people, whichever is fewer, but most other restrictions were removed.
- Counties at Level Blue will be allowed to open bars to 25% capacity of 75 people, whichever is fewer.
- Level Blue and Level Green outdoor event spaces will no longer have capacity restrictions, but counties can choose to implement them at the local level.
- Retail, offices, and non-critical manufacturing locations in counties in Level Blue can operate up to 75% capacity, up from 50%.
- Level Blue 5-Star businesses can operate with up to 60% capacity if not exceeding 50 people above the caps for restaurants and indoor events, and 25 people above the cap for gyms.
“These proposed updates reflect the increasing number of Coloradans who have received a COVID-19 vaccine over the past four months. People ages 70 and older have accounted for 38% of all hospitalizations over the course of the pandemic in Colorado. Nearly 80% of this age group is fully vaccinated, also vaccines will become available to all Coloradans over the age of 16 by mid April,” the CDPHE said in a news release.
“The state’s role in continuing to mandate statewide restrictions is lessening and the role of local communities to regulate and manage the virus is increasing.”