By Alan Gionet

GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4) – It feels pretty good to be out for Tom and Kathleen Mitchell, both over 70.

golden, colorado

CBS4’s Alan Gionet interviews Tom and Kathleen Mitchell. (credit: CBS)

“Like I’m no longer in danger,” said Kathleen, while the two visited Golden Thursday. “I can kiss my grand babies,” she proclaimed.

“That’s the main thing,” Tom added.

(credit: CBS)

But in the shops and restaurants of Golden they are thinking about hugging new business.

“I’m ready to be busy again, I want everything to go back. I’m ready to cut hair,” said Barbara Robie, owner of Del’s Tonsorial Parlor. She sat along with her friend Michelle McClure inside the Ace High Tavern. McClure is day bartender. “We are starting to feel confident and it’s nice. It’s going to be a good change,” said McClure.

(credit: CBS)

On Friday morning Jefferson County moved from the Yellow Level, “Concern” to the Blue Level, “Caution.” It will mean minor improvements in capacities. Closing time at place like the Ace High will be able to move from 11 p.m. to midnight. High risk populations are no long advised to stay home. Non-essential manufacturing can add up to 75 people.

Possibly the biggest change is the State of Colorado’s guidance that Pre-K through high school learning be in-person rather than just suggested. Higher Ed also gets an in-person designation. Jefferson County Schools currently have in-person learning through the 5th Grade. Middle and High Schools are hybrid learning. Tracking of cases shared at schools is not easy and there may be infections health experts don’t know about. But JeffCo health spokeswoman Ashley Sever forwarded a statement saying, “Since October 2020, there were two cases in elementary schools, one in middle schools and four in high schools,” among confirmed outbreaks at schools. The school district tells CBS4 a decision from the interim superintendent will be coming Friday on whether there will be more in-person learning.

The move to Blue does come with a note of caution from the county health department’s head of the Office of Pandemic Response.

“We are at the high end of that blue metric and we want to have caution as we move forward into the next couple of weeks of dancing around in that blue,” said Christine Billings.

The cases that are cropping up lately, she says, are from things like gatherings and shopping. There’s not much data on transmission at restaurants.

“We are seeing outbreaks within sporting groups, be it club or school-based, that is certainly an area where we are watching very closely.”

A reduction in cases will help the health department work on tracking where the disease can be found and possibly isolated.

At Ace High Tavern the discussion turned to hope.

“We’ve seen an increase in the last couple of weeks. So I’m hoping now that there’s blue that we will really be busy,” said Robie, whose business has been off 40 percent. Only with rental assistance has she been able to continue.

But vaccinations have been a help. Jefferson, Douglas, Boulder and Broomfield counties on the Front Range have all been able to vaccinate — at least once — 70% of the population over 70, which Gov. Jared Polis has said he wants by the end of February.

“My first guy in here every morning at 7 a.m. is 85 years old,” said McClure.

He’s been vaccinated.

Alan Gionet