By Audra Streetman

DENVER (CBS4) – Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock says the city’s economy could be one of the fastest to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. This week Five Star certified businesses in several metro-area counties, including Denver, were approved to operate under level blue restrictions on the state’s COVID-19 dial.

Mayor Michael B. Hancock (credit: CBS)

The move allows certified business owners to increase capacity to 50% and move last call for alcohol to midnight.

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“Denver has been forecast as one of the top cities that will emerge the fastest out of the doldrums of this economic slowdown due to the pandemic,” Hancock said during a news conference on Thursday.

Since the pandemic started, Denver has recorded more than 60,000 cases of COVID-19, 4,000 hospitalizations and 517 lives lost to the virus.

“This has been a year like no other in our city’s history. Every day has presented challenges,” Hancock said. “But as we come to a point in the calendar that calls us to look back, it is only appropriate to reflect on all we’ve lost.”

READ MORE: Gov. Jared Polis To Hold Remembrance Ceremony Friday To Mark 1 Year Since Colorado’s First Confirmed COVID Case

Officials plan to light the Denver City and County Building on March 8 remember the victims of the pandemic. The building will light up again on March 15 to honor essential workers and on March 22 to symbolize the city’s path from rescue to recovery.

Gov. Jared Polis is calling for a “Statewide Day of Remembrance” on Friday to mark one year since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Colorado. All Coloradans, counties, cities, businesses, and organizations are invited to participate, according to the governor’s office.

(credit: CBS)

Mayor Hancock also announced the following vaccination sites will open this month in Denver:

  • March 7: Auraria Campus (one day)
  • March 7: Bear Valley Library
  • March9: MLK Rec. Center
  • March 10: Barnum Rec. Center

Residents in these communities can schedule an appointment by calling 720-865-3005. Vaccine appointments are also available online at vaccinespotter.org.

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Hancock emphasized that following public health protocols is essential for Colorado to reopen and return to normal. This includes hand washing, wearing a mask, socially distancing and avoiding large gatherings.

Audra Streetman