Gov. Jared Polis on Monday announced that Colorado will further loosen restrictions on people’s movement by the end of the week, allowing the reopening of bars and the resumption of outdoor events like concerts, fairs, rodeos and receptions.
The Democrat said the changes — which will include strict guidelines and limitations aimed at reducing the possibility of coronavirus spreading — will go into effect on Thursday. The public will be able to offer input about the changes before they are implemented.
Barbers will also be allowed to resume offering shaves and beard trimmings and spas can offer facials and lip waxing by the end of the week. Additionally, Polis said conventions and other indoor gathering places, like museums, can resume operations by the end of the week with restrictions.
Finally, Polis said residential — also known as “sleep-away” or overnight — camps will be allowed to reopen.
Even as Polis announced the easing of restrictions, he warned Coloradans that they can’t let their guard down and must continue practicing social distancing and wear masks.
“We are only just a few steps ahead of this virus here,” he said. “… We can’t let the good news give us any false sense of security.”
Bars, which have been shut down since March because of the pandemic, will be allowed to operate at only 25% of their capacity or up to 50 people, whichever amount is smaller.
Residential summer camps will be limited to gathering 10 children indoors and 25 outdoors.
Polis played down the latest relaxation of rules around Coloradans’ movement as simply “dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s” for his statewide “safer-at-home” phase of coronavirus. But with latest alterations, nearly every part of life as people in Colorado knew it will return in some — albeit limited — fashion.
“We need to exercise personal responsibility,” the governor said, explaining that he’s very anxious about the possibility of a resurgence in cases as neighboring states, like Arizona and Utah, see increasing infections.
“Protect-our-neighbors” phase is next
Also on Monday, Polis unveiled what comes next for Colorado — likely in July — after the “stay-at-home” phase expires.
The governor is calling it the “protect-our-neighbors” phase, where counties with low levels of coronavirus transmission can apply to ease their restrictions to an even greater extent. Right now, areas of the state where coronavirus infections have slowed have been able to ask Polis’ health officials for a variance to be more lenient.
The governor says during the “protect-our-neighbors” phase counties that can prove they have the virus under control and have the capacity to quickly address an outbreak will be allowed to go even further.
“I was proud that we were the first state to allow for local flexibility through the variance process, and that has been very successful in areas of the state with a low virus count,” Polis said. “They were among the first areas in the entire nation to reopen their restaurants and many of their local businesses. We now feel that we can take that further.”
Communities that qualify for the “protect-our-neighbors” phase will able to resume all activities with a cap on gatherings at 50% their normal capacity, or up to 500 people, with adequate spacing, mask-wearing and sanitization.
Counties that can show a sustained reduction in coronavirus cases may be allowed to have gatherings of even more than 50% of their normal capacity or 500 people.
“There might be some county fairs in Colorado,” Polis said.
Cases, hospitalizations still trending downward
Polis said the state’s coronavirus data is promising: There has been a decrease in coronavirus cases in 12 of the past 14 days. There has also been a downward trend in hospitalization for eight of the past 14 days.
More than 29,000 people in Colorado have tested positive for the coronavirus or are considered to have infections.
Among people with confirmed cases of the virus, 1,605 have died. Of those, 1,373 have died as a result of the disease.