Garfield County business restrictions ease with new state COVID-19 dial 3.0 |

Garfield County business restrictions ease with new state COVID-19 dial 3.0

Belly up: bars are now open in blue counties

Bars can now be open and restaurants can operate at full capacity in Garfield and other counties operating under the state’s blue level COVID-19 restrictions.

Garfield County Public Health announced the dial change and how it impacts local businesses on Wednesday, as Garfield County teeters on the edge of returning to the stricter yellow level based on recent novel coronavirus case trends.

Colorado this week approved changes to its COVID-19 dial — now referred to as dial 3.0 — easing many of the restrictions on businesses and making it easier to achieve the least-restrictive green level, known as “protect our neighbors,” according to a county press release.

Garfield County is currently at level blue, or “caution,” on the dial, based on the most-recent COVID-19 case counts, weekly incidence and test positivity rates and stable or declining hospitalizations.

With the 3.0 changes now in effect, all restaurants in blue level counties can operate at 100% capacity, but still with six feet distancing between groups and mask requirements when not seated.

Bars and night clubs that don’t serve a regular food menu can also now be open at 25% capacity, or up to 75 people, whichever is fewer.

That means liquor-serving establishments that previously were required to remain closed, even under level blue, can now be open at the limited capacity.

In addition:

  • Gyms, recreation centers and pools may also operate at 100% capacity under blue, with six feet distancing; 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, which had been 10 or less from only two households, has also been dropped. However, 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% capacity under level blue, up from 50%.
  • The update removes a restriction that public transit should only be used for necessary activities.
  • The dial change also means indoor seated and non-seated events that are 5 Star-certified can operate at 50% capacity, with a limit of 500 people in level blue.

The dial change also means counties can now qualify for green-level status automatically with a seven-day incidence level of 35 cases per 100,000 people. The former dial 2.0 required a seven-day incidence of 15 per 100,000 to achieve green status.

Garfield County has been trending closer to level yellow over the past couple of weeks, as neighboring Pitkin County returned to the stricter orange level restrictions.

As of Thursday, Garfield County was at 149.6 cases per 100,000. Level blue ranges from 36-100 cases per 100,000. Garfield County has not been below the 100-case threshold since the second week of March.

Levels green and blue both require a testing positivity rate of no greater than 5%. On Thursday, the positivity rate in Garfield County was exactly 5%, and hospitalizations continued to be low, with no new COVID-19 hospitalizations this week at either Valley View or Grand River hospitals.

The state dial update comes as close to 80% of Coloradans ages 70 and older have received a COVID-19 vaccination, according to the release. Garfield County has also seen more than 83% of its 70-plus population vaccinated.

Statewide, “That group represents 78% of all COVID-19 deaths and 38% of all hospitalizations during the pandemic,” the county’s release notes.

As more Coloradans receive COVID-19 vaccinations, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) anticipates a more localized dial model by mid-April. That would allow county public health departments to have more control over local capacity limits.

“CDPHE may move a county into a more restrictive dial level if hospitals exceed 85% capacity,” the release states. “The goal of the state’s COVID dial is to preserve hospital capacity statewide.”

The dial changes do not affect the state’s mask mandate, which is now set to expire on April 3 but could be extended or modified by the Governor’s Office. The city of Glenwood Springs also still has an outdoor mask requirement in the downtown area.

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