DENVER — Businesses that rely on indoor service may soon be allowed more customers.
The state has finalized the requirements counties must meet to be given a "5 Star State Certification Program" variance.
This Colorado program would allow restaurants in "Level Red" counties to open up dining rooms and would give additional capacity to gyms, fitness centers, indoor event centers and any business that qualifies.
Once a county is approved for the variance, businesses can apply to the county to be given flexibility on indoor capacity.
Under "Level Red," restaurants have to close the dining rooms. If a restaurant gets deemed "5 Star" status, it would be able to operate under the next loosest level, "Level Orange."
Under "Level Orange," restaurants are allowed 25% capacity, up to 50 people.
However, if you want to be one of the customers inside one of these businesses, you'll have to give up some privacy.
Customers will be required to be screened for symptoms, leave their name and contact information for contact tracing purposes, and the restaurant has to record where they sat.
"Douglas County will be applying on Friday for the '5 Star' variance program," said Douglas County Commissioner Lora Thomas.
The county will apply Friday. It could take three to 10 days for the state to approve the application. In the meantime, the county can start inspecting businesses to have them qualified once the county is approved.
"Our main priority is going to be driven toward restaurants, and then after that event venues, and then after that other businesses because those restaurants and event venues have had the most negative effects," said Douglas County Facilities Director Tim Hallmark.
To apply, the county must detail how it plans to enforce the rules and how it will handle complaints about compliance.
Counties must also get signature approval from the local health department, local hospitals, commissioners, as well as the sheriff and/or police chief.
In a bit of irony, Douglas County must get approval from the Tri-County Health Department. Earlier this year, the commissioners briefly considered creating its own Board of Health to make decisions instead of being bound by Tri-County's board decision.
"We have staff working with Tri-County Health because we need Tri-County Health to sign off on our project, and they have been with us all along in this process," said Thomas.
Next with Kyle Clark reached out to the Weld County Commissioners to see if they would be putting on paper an explanation of how they would enforce the "5 Star" rules since commissioners have said restrictions put in place by the state should be enforced by the state.
A spokeswoman for the Weld County Commissioners said that Weld County has no plans to apply for the variance.
For counties currently in "Level Red," they must meet three criteria before their applications will be considered for approval:
- Two-week decline in cases
- Two-week decline in hospitalizations
- Declining positivity rate over two weeks OR less than 10% positivity rate
Boulder County, for example, announced on Thursday, that it is currently not eligible to apply for "5 Star" status because the county only has 12 days of declining hospitalizations.
Another caveat in the program is that businesses are ineligible if they have been cited for noncompliance of a public health order in the past.
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