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Free concerts coming to downtown Denver to entice people to visit

The city of Denver will move to Level Clear on Sunday, and announced a concert series to get people back downtown.

DENVER — Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and members of the live events industry held a news conference Friday afternoon to discuss the return of concerts to the city. 

Some of the live events coming up this summer include free concerts on the 16th Street Mall and a Taste of Colorado event that will happen in different parts of downtown rather than simply Civic Center Park. 

“After a year of challenges, Denver’s arts organizations are once again open for business, and they’re ready to welcome people back," Hancock said. 

The mayor said the city will update its mask rules to be in line with those announced by Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado). This allows people who are vaccinated to forego face coverings in most settings. 

This announcement comes after Denver said it will move into "Level Clear" when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions, which allows businesses to reopen at 100% capacity. 

RELATED: These Denver metro area counties move to 'Level Clear' on Sunday

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) loosened its guidance around masks for vaccinated people on Thursday, and the state of Colorado said it is working to align its policies around the issue with the new developments at the federal level. 

However, with the loosening restrictions the Colorado Restaurant Association (CRA) said they would have liked more guidance. CRA President Sonia Riggs released this statement Friday afternoon:

“The May 13, 2021 updated mask guidelines from the CDC and Governor Polis’ announcement today that fully vaccinated Coloradans no longer need to wear masks in public indoor settings, in addition to Mayor Hancock’s announcement that Denver County is moving to Level Clear on Sunday, May 16, is cause for both optimism and confusion among Colorado’s restaurant community. Allowing restaurants to return to full capacity without social distancing is a big step in the right direction to begin recapturing the $3 billion in revenue that restaurants lost in 2020.

Yet questions about mask wearing abound: How are restaurants supposed to effectively and safely manage customers in the wake of this updated mask guidance? If a customer enters a restaurant in which the management has decided to maintain mask rules when customers are not seated, but the customer says that they are vaccinated and therefore do not need to wear a mask at any time, how are the restaurant staff to manage that situation? Do they ask for proof of vaccination, and if so, what qualifies as proof of vaccination in a restaurant setting?" 

Given that, as of today, less than half of Denver’s population is fully immunized, this new mask guidance puts restaurants in a difficult position, expecting restaurant workers to manage their guests based on vaccination status. That is not the role of restaurant workers in our communities, and it adds yet another burden when restaurant operators are just beginning to get back on their feet after the worst year in living memory. This guidance may put restaurant workers at odds with their guests if restaurants choose to maintain safety practices that are more stringent than those outlined by the Governor and Mayor today. Other restaurants, in order to avoid confrontations with their guests, may opt to completely eliminate mask wearing inside their restaurants." 

RELATED: You can now get your vaccine at a Red Rocks concert

Outdoor events have returned to Colorado, including Rockies games and Red Rocks concerts, at reduced capacity. 

> Watch the video above for a previous 9NEWS story on the return of concerts to Red Rocks. 

Denver is slated to host the MLB All-Star game this summer, and Hancock said he is expecting Coors Field to be at full capacity during a news conference last week where he also detailed a plan to revitalize downtown businesses. 

RELATED: Hancock expects full crowd for MLB All-Star game

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