By Audra Streetman

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment approved Arapahoe County’s variance request to launch the Five Star Recovery Partner Program. Businesses in the county can begin applying for the program on Thursday with inspections scheduled to start next week.

Arapahoe County businesses that pass the inspection can operate at 25% capacity, up to 50 people. CDPHE granted the variance after reviewing the county’s COVID-19 data, which shows a decrease in positivity, hospitalizations and the incidence rate over the past two weeks.

Colorado counties by level on the state’s COVID-19 dial dashboard. (credit: CDPHE)

“We’re pleased that our COVID case numbers have decreased enough to enable Arapahoe County to be granted the variance that will allow us to launch the Five-Star program while the County is in the Red Dial Position,” said Nancy N. Sharpe, Arapahoe County Board Chair. “This will provide a consistent method for reopening area businesses in a way that will help them earn more revenue and get their employees back to work, while also helping their customers and our communities control the spread of COVID-19.”

Colorado health officials will review the county’s case data in 14 days to determine if the program should continue. CDPHE plans to suspend the program if hospital capacity reaches 90% in the county or if cases and hospitalizations increase significantly.

So far the state has approved Five Star variances for Summit, Larimer, Douglas, La Plata, Arapahoe, and Broomfield counties.

Businesses can apply for the Five Star Recovery Partner Program online at Businesses are ineligible if they received any previous non-compliance citations from the Tri-County Health Department as of Dec. 18.

Arapahoe County officials plan to prioritize restaurant, gym, and indoor event applications. Businesses with multiple locations must certify each location separately.

To apply, businesses must submit a plan explaining how they plan to comply with public health requirements. For more information, visit Arapahoe County’s website.

Audra Streetman