Gov. Jared Polis releases relaxed coronavirus rules, plans to allow more local flexibility
Fort Collins Coloradoan
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Monday announced plans to further relax coronavirus restrictions and allow for more decisions on restrictions to be made by local health departments.
Polis announced draft guidelines for further relaxing restrictions statewide under the safer-at-home executive order during a Monday afternoon news conference. The state is accepting input on these guidelines on coloradosaferathome.com, and new guidance will go into effect Thursday.
“There is some risk in all activities,” Polis said.
Even with furthered relaxed restrictions, some areas of the state are ready to reopen even further, Polis said.
Many counties have applied for variances from the safer-at-home orders, including Larimer County, but with newly reported cases and hospitalization rates continuing to decline, Polis said many areas are ready to move into a phase where local health departments can make further decisions on what restrictions are needed to live with the virus until there is a vaccine or cure.
THE LATEST: Colorado and Larimer County coronavirus case numbers
“Coloradans have been following the sound guidance of health officials in large numbers: wearing masks in public, staying 6 feet from others,” Polis said. “… We need to find a sustainable way to live. We’ve known that from the start.”
Counties that can prove they have the ability to contain surges and outbreaks through testing; case investigation and contact tracing; isolation and quarantine; and site-specific closures can be approved by the state for the next phase of additional relaxed restrictions: “protect our neighbors.”
The goal for that phase is to find a sustainable way to live with the virus by ensuring local health departments are able to quickly identify new cases and outbreaks and use contact tracing to identify and quarantine those who were exposed, Polis said, giving local officials more flexibility in managing the virus.
“Strong local public health and health care systems are the key to successfully reopening our economy,” Polis said. “We need to exercise personal responsibility — wear masks in public, stay 6 feet apart from others — and support our local public health efforts to contain this epidemic so that we can continue to enjoy our freedoms.”
In the “protect our neighbors” phase, communities would be allowed to have all activities occur at 50% capacity with a cap of 500 in attendance at one time. Social distancing would still be required.
OUTBREAKS: Fort Collins Chick-fil-A was ‘on cusp’ of major outbreak of COVID-19
The capacity levels may be allowed to increase to 60% to 75% depending on the county’s transmission levels and if they’re able to continue meeting state requirements for testing, case investigation, contact tracing and outbreak response.
“We’ve slowed the spread, you’ve slowed the spread. That’s amazing,” Polis said. “Now we can continue to give local governments even more flexibility … to contain any outbreaks early and prevent the pandemic from gaining another foothold in our state.”
If a county continues to show it is managing the virus well in the third phase, the state may approve further relaxations of restrictions. But Polis said it’s also possible for a county to need to go back to safer-at-home or even stay-at-home requirements if the virus spikes so much that case counts are growing exponentially, as they did in March and April.
“We know we can’t live as we lived last year. We will someday, when there’s a vaccine or a cure,” Polis said. “But in the meantime … be smart, wear a mask, and these guidelines will allow us to have something closer to a normal, sustainable way of life in our state.”
The state is accepting feedback on the “protect our neighbors” phase online at covid19.colorado.gov/protect-our-neighbors through the end of the week, and the new phase will be activated by end of June or early July, Polis said.
Sady Swanson covers crime, courts, public safety and more throughout Northern Colorado. You can send your story ideas to her at email@example.com or on Twitter at @sadyswan. Support our work and local journalism with a digital subscription at Coloradoan.com/subscribe.
This content was originally published here.