COVID dial changes ease restrictions on businesses

March 24, 2021

The state of Colorado has approved changes to its COVID dial, easing many restrictions on businesses and making it easier for counties to reach the least restrictive green level, known as “Protect Our Neighbors.” Garfield County is currently at level Blue on the new dial.

The changes in Dial 3.0, which is now in effect, remove most restrictions at the green level. Counties now qualify for Green automatically with a seven-day incidence level of 35 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000, up from 15 per 100,000 under Dial 2.0. Level Blue ranges from 36-100 people with COVID-19 per 100,000. Both levels Green and Blue require a testing positivity at no greater than five percent.

All restaurants can now operate at 100 percent capacity in level Blue counties with six feet distancing between groups. Indoor seated and non-seated events that are 5 Star-certified can operate at 50 percent capacity, with a limit of 500 people in level Blue.

Dial 3.0 also allows bars to open in level Blue at a capacity of 25 percent or 75 people, whichever is fewer. Under Dial 2.0, only bars that also served food were allowed to operate. Gyms, recreation centers and pools may also operate at 100 percent capacity under Blue, with six feet distancing, and masks are still required.

State capacity restrictions for outdoor events, including guided activities, have been removed for both levels Blue and Green, though counties may still elect to implement some capacity restrictions. The state restriction on personal gatherings has also been dropped, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still recommends avoiding large gatherings.

Retail establishments, offices and non-critical manufacturing may now operate at 75 percent capacity under level Blue, up from 50 percent. The update also removed a restriction that public transit should only be used for necessary activities.

The update comes as close to 80 percent of Coloradans ages 70 and up have received a COVID-19 vaccination. That group represents 78 percent of all COVID-19 deaths and 38 percent of all hospitalizations during the pandemic.

Due to more Coloradans receiving COVID-19 vaccinations, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) anticipates a more local dial model come mid-April, in which county public health departments will have more control over local capacity limits. CDPHE may more a county into a more restrictive dial level if hospitals exceed 85 percent capacity.

The goal of the state’s COVID dial is to preserve hospital capacity statewide. The changes do not affect the state’s mask mandate, which expires on April 3, but may be modified by the governor’s office at that time.

View the latest Garfield County public health orders online.

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