LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Restaurants, gyms, churches and more establishments will be allowed to slowly reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to a variance granted by the state of Colorado. Larimer County’s Department of Health and Environment is accepting applications for qualified businesses and organizations to slowly reopen, so long as they adhere to health guidelines.
“Our community has done a great job at flattening the curve in Larimer County. With face coverings, and social distancing, our residents are taking this very seriously,” spokesperson Katie O’Donnell told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas.
In a multi-page document submitted to the state, Larimer County officials outlined how 12 different business sectors were prepared to open safely. Social distancing, required facial coverings and limited capacities were among the proposals made for many businesses and organizations.
Though the state did not approve all of the requests in the variance, many major industries and gathering places were approved. While restaurants were included in the list of those approved, the county felt the state neglected to properly include breweries, as they were included with eateries in the initial application.
“(The state) said no to bars. (They) said yes to restaurants. We put them all in the same bucket. What is allowed, and what is not allowed? They came back and said no to everything, but restaurants. That was a big disappointment for us,” O’Donnell said.
Restaurants who qualify are allowed to reopen in a limited capacity. Indoor service will be limited to 30% normal capacity, with outdoor dining at 60% service.
Personal care businesses, like spas and salons, were given approval as well.
O’Donnell said the county only intended to let businesses open that were both safe for customers to follow social distancing and sanitation, and those able to easily promote contact tracing in the case of a possible exposure to COVID-19.
“Some of these facilities are enormous, and they can absolutely meet their social distancing requirements,” O’Donnell said. “We can safely reopen these businesses, and keep track of who has been there. And our gyms are a great example of, yeah, of course. Because, they have memberships.”
Some of the industries not included in the approval by the state were sports leagues, long-term care facilities, child care centers, and day/summer camps. The county believed many of those who work in those industries have provided proper proposals for safe operation. So, the county will assess the possibility of applying again for more variances.
Until then, O’Donnell said the county will accept what they were given, and work to keep moving Larimer County in the right direction to a strong and safe community, and economy.
“Nothing is going to look like it did four months ago. Our community has done a good job at understanding that. We just need to start seeing these businesses that have been closed be able to get up in some limited capacity.”