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Mesa County gets variance from safer-at-home order; restaurants, churches and gyms could reopen

Mesa County has pointed to its relatively lower rate of COVID-19 cases compared to other parts of Colorado as reasons for the variance.

MESA COUNTY, Colo. — The most populous county on the Western Slope has now received a variance from Colorado’s statewide safer-at-home plan. Eagle County is the only other place in Colorado that has received a similar variance as of this writing.

Mesa County Public Health has been granted permission from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to work with industries on a timeline for reopening that’s different from the one provided by the state.

Notably, this allows restaurants, gyms and places of worship to reopen, albeit with strict social distancing precautions. This is not yet allowed under Colorado’s safer-at-home order, which allows some businesses previously deemed nonessential – including salons and tattoo parlors – to once again open their doors to customers. Gatherings of more than 10 people remain prohibited.

The specific dates for when other businesses in Mesa County can reopen have not been released.

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“This virus still poses a threat to our Public and personal health. We’re not there yet; stay the course,” Jeff Kuhr, executive director of Mesa County Public Health,  said in a news release. “This plan allows us to begin a localized, phased approach that will be implemented as we continue to work to ensure residents of Mesa County are protected from COVID-19. “

Mesa County obtained the variance, claiming that it has a lower rate of cases than other places in Colorado. According to CDPHE data from Wednesday, Mesa County – which is home to Grand Junction – has had 44 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and no deaths.

Mesa County Public Health said it will focus much of its attention on high-risk settings such as nursing homes, prisons and jails, and homeless service providers.

Vulnerable members of the population are also asked to stay at home as much as possible.

Information about Mesa County’s variance is available by clicking here. Specific guidance for restaurants, gyms and places of worship have not yet been posted.

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