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The Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche take the ice for the first period of Game 3 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series Monday, April 16, 2018, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

People will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend large, indoor events in the Denver area starting Friday.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced a new public health order Sunday night putting the mandate in place. The order applies to Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver and Jefferson counties.

A large, indoor event is defined as one attended by 500 or more people. The order applies to concerts, bars, receptions, auctions and dance halls where people are unseated. People 12 and older are subject to the mandate.

The requirement doesn’t apply to houses of worship.

The order is Colorado’s latest response to a surge of COVID cases that’s threatening to overwhelm the state’s hospitals. About 1,500 people were hospitalized with coronavirus heading into the weekend. A limited number of hospital beds were open across the state.

Gov. Jared Polis said last week that he is preparing  to expand the state’s hospital bed capacity and speed up the distribution of coronavirus vaccine boosters to combat the disease’s spike.

Polis has, so far, resisted the idea of implementing a mask mandate or shutting down indoor dining at restaurants, two measures he used to battle the state’s last coronavirus spike, which happened in November and December 2020.

“Large venues and local governments are part of the solution to ending the pandemic,” Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of CDPHE, said in a written statement Sunday. “We also need all Coloradans to do their part by getting vaccinated if they haven’t already.” 

Some venues in Denver — including Ball Arena — have already enacted a vaccine requirement, though they allow people to attend if they have proof of a recent, negative COVID test.

Under the order issued Sunday, indoor event venues may continue to allow unvaccinated people who have a verified negative COVID-19 test to attend their large events, but only until Dec. 1.

“Indoor event venues may submit a variance request to CDPHE if they
have disease mitigation measures that will similarly protect individuals
from further disease spread,” the state’s order says.

CDPHE is encouraging all counties and municipalities in the state to adopt a similar mandate.

“All county and municipal governments and venues are strongly encouraged to
implement a vaccine requirement for indoor public events,” the order says.

The order will be in effect until at least Dec. 31.

Jesse Paul

The Colorado Sun — Desk: 720-432-2229 Jesse Paul is a political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is...