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Colorado businesses planning for the relaxed mask order

Gov. Jared Polis announced an amendment to Colorado’s mask mandate, effectively allowing people not to wear masks indoors if 80% of people have the COVID vaccine.

AURORA, Colo. — Michele Venter does her best to track changing health restrictions, but it can get overwhelming.

“It seems like every minute it’s changing,” she said.

Venter owns Urban Events Colorado, a wedding planning business in Aurora. She was just starting to build her business in early 2020 when the pandemic hit.

Even with heightened restrictions, Venter helped with a few weddings in 2020 and one this year. At each of those events, guests and the wedding parties have had to wear masks under state guidelines.

“When we don’t know the strangers, we’re trying to respect strangers,” she said. “When you’re around family and friends [wearing a mask] seems a little weird and awkward but people have been resilient about it.”

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But on Sunday, Gov. Jared Polis announced an amendment to Colorado’s mask mandate, effectively allowing people not to wear masks at indoor events if 80% or more of the people attending show proof of full vaccination.

“We’ve been in it for a while now so I think people are expecting the worst and I think this is a step in the right direction in a positive direction,” Venter said.

She isn’t quite sure how this new process will work with her clients. Venter said she has already told couples to consider asking their wedding guests if they are vaccinated. Most wedding websites allow a question about vaccination when someone RSVPs.

“I suggest sending out a mass email out to all of the RSVPed guests saying hey, if you’re vaccinated, feel free to bring your card,” Venter said.

Brynn Swanson with the Colorado Event Alliance, an advocacy group for event professionals formed early in the pandemic, said there is a lot of confusion with the governor’s announcement. Wedding planners and venue coordinators aren’t sure who is supposed to check for vaccination cards and if they need to manage a list.

Swanson said most event professionals found out about the change when the governor announced it, though her organization has weekly calls with the governor’s office.

Gym owners, who would also benefit from relaxed mask restrictions, are also confused about how they should enforce it.

“We’re anxiously awaiting any more guidance,” said Jen Sevcik, owner of Duality, a gym near Sloan’s Lake. “We want to make sure we’re aligned with our state and the orders.”

Sevcik said her management team has already begun discussing how to manage this new rule. They’re considering sending out a questionnaire to clients, asking them about their comfort level working out with others not wearing masks. The questionnaire may also collect the necessary information the gym would need, like a picture of the client’s vaccine card.

“Working out in a mask and sucking that mask in when your heart is beating as fast as it possibly can has been a mental and physical battle,” she said.

But Duality and other businesses in Denver may have to wait to start holding maskless events. Local mask orders supersede the state order, and Denver County’s more restrictive order is expected to remain in place through the end of May, public health officials told 9NEWS.

Contact 9News reporter Steve Staeger with tips about this or any story by emailing steve@9news.com

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