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Polis hopeful restaurants can reopen this month, says mountain communities aren’t ready for visitors

Colorado's governor discussed what he's looking for as the state enters the safer-at-home phase of its COVID-19 response.

DENVER — While Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) did not name an exact date for when it will happen, he said he was optimistic that restaurants will be able to reopen for some form of in-person service by Memorial Day weekend.

“We’re going to look at the data the week of the 22nd, 23rd,” Polis said. “It will be about three weeks of data from the safer-at-home phase.”

Polis said if those numbers are encouraging, he could release guidelines for restaurants, which he said would likely need a few days to prepare.

“I certainly hope it’s prior to June 15,” Polis said.

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During a remote press briefing Friday afternoon, the governor also said he was hopeful state parks could reopen their campgrounds by Memorial Day weekend. Nevertheless, he said he could not offer a date for when Coloradans will be allowed to travel more than 10 miles from their homes for recreation.

“The whole issue of traveling across the state is a challenging one,” Polis said. “I had a call with many county commissioners today … they feel they’re not yet ready to receive visitors.”

Some mountain communities, like Clear Creek County, have gone as far as to bar non-residents from using county roads. This came after crowds of backcountry skiers were spotted congregating at Loveland and Berthoud passes.

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Polis said the goal of the travel restrictions is to be mindful of the people who live in mountain communities and their relatively limited healthcare capacity as compared to the Front Range.

“They’re understanding the economic need to [reopen] more and more, they’re understanding the precautions that will be needed,” Polis said. “The overwhelming consensus is they’re not ready to receive visitors.”

Friday’s news conference came the same day the metro Denver counties were slated to issue their stay-at-home orders. The statewide order expired on April 27.

Polis said he was tracking data regarding hospitalizations to determine whether tighter restrictions are needed as the economy reopens and many people return to work, albeit with stricter guidelines about social distancing.

“We’re really going to be watching closely after the Denver stay-at-home order ends,” Polis said.

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