TELLER COUNTY — Teller County announced Monday its variance request to reopen casinos and other establishments has been approved by the Colorado Department of Public Health.
At this time, the opening of slot machines is the only approval from the state health department in casinos. The state health department also approved the reopening of movie theaters, places of worship and gyms.
The small community relies heavily upon this industry for so many jobs and livelihoods, which is why Teller County commissioners submitted a second variance request to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
We're told the first request, a broad one, was submitted on May 8. While the state allowed for many businesses in Teller County to reopen casinos were denied.
"The economic impact of having our casinos closed has been devastating especially to the city of Cripple Creek and the local businesses there...there are approximately 1,500 employees in the casino industry in Cripple Creek and most of these folks have been out of work for a number of months now," he said.
The second variance request focused solely on permitting casinos to open their doors. Dettenrieder shared that it was submitted along with a revised copy last week.
"We believe that this evidence in this document that was submitted should do the job to get things opened...first, the casinos have asked to operate at a limited occupancy, 40% occupancy. Second, all table games would remain shut down," he said.
For casinos, gaming tables will be reviewed in three weeks. Casinos will have to clarify how many people ride in an elevator to follow social distancing guidelines and "Any closing of the slot machines cannot be done in such a manner to intentionally improve the odds in favor of the house when it comes to payouts."
The state health department detailed in the approval that 6 feet of distance must be achieved and establishments must limit 50% "of the posted occupancy code limit ensuring a minimum 28 square feet per person not to exceed more than 175 people at any given time in a confined indoor space, and 250 people in any outdoor setting." Employees will also have to monitor daily for symptoms and those showing symptoms will have to be isolated.
In movie theaters, customers will be encouraged to wear face mask coverings and "must be asked whether they have COVID-19 symptoms at the door." Between showings, the theater will have to be cleaned and disinfected. There will also be 6 feet of distance between customers in concession lines and in the theaters.
Some of the other proposals the county made regarding restrictions at casinos include the enforcement of required social distancing, limiting alcohol consumption to one drink every half hour, requiring employees to wear a face mask at all times, and requiring customers to wear a mask and get a health screening just when entering the casino.
"It's a wait-and-see game and frankly, time is of the essence. Every day matters and we need to reopen these casinos," he said.
To read the variance approval from the state, click here.