Gov. Jared Polis announced Monday that some counties could begin allowing large-scale events as early as July, and all will be able to reopen bars and some additional services next week.
The current “Safer at Home” guidelines require both parties to wear masks for personal services like haircuts. That doesn’t work for facials, professional shaves and lip waxing so customers for those services won’t have to wear a mask as long as the beautician or barber does, Polis said.
The loosened guidelines also allow overnight summer camps to reopen, with social distancing in place, and for bars to reopen at 25% of their indoor capacity, Polis said.
Not all areas will be able to immediately move into the next phase, labeled “Protect Our Neighbors.” In that phase, all activities would be allowed, at up to 50% capacity, with a maximum of 500 people present at any given time. That would allow events like county fairs to take place, Polis said. The state is accepting comments on the draft guidelines for the new phase through Thursday, and on the Safer at Home changes through Wednesday.
Counties that want to move into that phase need to show the virus is only circulating at low levels, the number of cases is trending downward and that they have the capacity to use testing and tracing to stop small outbreaks from growing, Polis said. Those that do well in the Protect Our Neighbors phase might be able to allow events at more than 50% of capacity, he said.
Projections from the Colorado School of Public Health show the state risks overwhelming hospitals as early as August if the public doesn’t maintain high levels of social distancing. Others have raised concerns about a second wave of infections in the fall, which could coincide with the seasonal flu and could further strain health care capacity.
Polis acknowledged that allowing larger events carries some risk of spreading the virus, and that older people and those with health conditions may not want to participate. Restrictions could be tightened again if a local health department can’t get new outbreaks under control, he said.
“If you want to take that additional risk, be smart, wear a mask,” he said.
The number of new coronavirus infections in Colorado remained relatively low Monday, with 125 cases reported Sunday and 161 people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Monday afternoon. Hospitalizations have dropped precipitously since mid-April, but appear to have leveled out somewhat in recent days.
No new COVID-related deaths have been confirmed since Friday, though it can take several days for those records to reach the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Altogether, Colorado has recorded 29,299 cases of the new coronavirus, resulting in 1,373 confirmed deaths and 5,269 hospitalizations. Another 232 people died with the virus in their systems, but their deaths haven’t been directly linked to COVID-19.
The generally positive trend in the numbers reflects people’s decisions to wear masks in public and continue social distancing, Polis said. He cautioned that people can’t expect to behave like they did before the pandemic until there’s a vaccine or treatment, however.
“The news is only as good as people’s behavior,” he said.
This content was originally published here.