Garfield County renews request to reopen large tourist attractions
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As other Colorado tourist attractions are allowed to reopen with the loosening of coronavirus health restrictions on businesses, so too should Glenwood Springs’ large attractions, say Garfield County officials.
In a new letter penned Wednesday, county commissioners ask state health officials to reconsider the lone variance that was not granted when a decision was made last week to grant variances for other types of Garfield County businesses to reopen at limited capacity.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment agreed on May 23 to allow Garfield County restaurants, places of worship, fitness facilities and gyms, recreation areas and outfitters to operate at 50% capacity.
However, a sixth variance request to allow large tourist attractions to reopen at 30% capacity was not granted. Gov. Jared Polis and the state health department plan to revisit the matter on June 1.
Other tourist attractions around the state have been allowed to reopen under variance requests from other counties, including Arapahoe Basin ski area in Summit County, Royal Gorge in Fremont County and the Denver Botanical Gardens.
Glenwood Springs’ major attractions — The Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, Iron Mountain Hot Springs, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park and the Hanging Lake Trail operations — have business reopening plans on file with Garfield County Public Health.
They, too, should be allowed to reopen ahead of lifting the broader statewide restrictions, commissioners said in the letter addressed to Colorado Board of Health Administrator Alexandra Haas and copied to CDPHE Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan.
The local business plans — with more than 150 pages detailing various public health precautions to prevent spread of COVID-19 — are included with the letter.
“Our Public Health Department is comfortable that these four individual plans … are thoughtful and effective,” the letter reads. “It is our hope that [CDPHE] will rely on these individual business plans in their reconsideration of our variance request for large tourist attractions.”
The U.S. Forest Service, city of Glenwood Springs and their private operator already have plans to reopen access to the Hanging Lake Trail on June 1 on a limited, advance-purchase parking and hiking permit basis.
Until the state grants the county’s variance or take statewide action for private tourist attractions to open, however, the two hot springs and the Caverns Adventure Park remain barred from resuming business.
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