Colorado moving to relax mask mandate, capacity limits

DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s health department is moving to relax its statewide mask mandate and limits on gathering capacity, saying the state’s role in determining COVID-19 restrictions will lessen in favor of more local control as vaccination eligibility opens more widely.

The proposal announced Friday would allow local authorities and “private entities” in the counties with the lowest coronavirus infection rates to determine whether or not masks would be required. It would also end most restrictions on capacity for restaurants, personal services providers, retailers, manufacturers, health care providers or outdoor events.

Gyms, bars and indoor events would still be subject to a limit on the number of people who can gather there. The proposed change would also not affect schools, as students aged 11 to 18 must wear masks for the rest of the academic year.

There are currently only two so-called Level Green counties where this applies: the rural Crowley and Otero counties in southern Colorado, which means they have fewer than 15 cases per 100,000 people in a week.

A majority of the state is in the next risk level up, while the Denver metro area is two levels higher than the least restrictive designation, where this guidance would not yet apply. For the majority of the state, masks will be required for indoor public places with 10 or more people, and the capacity restrictions remain in place.

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