By Shawn Chitnis
DENVER (CBS4) – New guidelines for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s COVID-19 Dial reduced restrictions for businesses able to operate in the lowest levels — blue and green. Gyms and outdoor events are some of the sectors benefiting the most, operating without a limit on capacity if physical distancing is in place.

(credit: State of Colorado March 23, 2021)

“What makes me happiest about what the state is doing is that they’re giving people faith that we’re going in the right direction, that things are working,” said Ryan Foo, an event producer who is moving his annual tradition, Illfoominati, to an outdoor venue this year because of COVID restrictions.

Ryan Foo (credit: CBS)

The immersive event features a unique theme each year that has ranged from Dungeons and Dragons to cardboard forts. It is the first time in five years he has hosted the gathering outdoors but he is grateful to see the state ease up on limits just weeks before his event.

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The Outer Space is a new venue located along the 16th Street Mall that can be used by the general public visiting during the day and reserved for special activities like Illfoominati.

(credit: CBS)

“Most event producers are not going to chance a thing,” Foo told CBS4 on Wednesday. “We’re going to do our best to remain safe and to do everything by the book and continue playing the game the right way because it only takes one of us to mess it up for everyone.”

New guidelines under the COVID Dial 3.0 allow 100 percent capacity for outdoor events without assigned seating.

His event typically brings out 200 to 300 people but will have timed limits on tickets throughout the two evenings he is hosting it at The Outer Space. He will still require masks and distancing, which remain part of state guidelines.

This is possible under Level Blue or Green as long as county health districts do not have additional restrictions. Denver County is under Level Yellow this week but those with 5 Star Certification can operate as if they are in Level Blue.

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That’s good news for gyms.

“Our passion is truly to improve people’s mental and physical health, which we know is actually more important now potentially than it was,” said JoAnna Masloski, the chief operating officer for the Denver based Colorado Athletic Clubs. “We know that we can operate safely at any level and we know that we continue the same practices that we put in place that are guided by the 5 Star principles.”

(credit: CBS)

The group of clubs have maintained strict standards for reducing the chance of spreading the virus. Policies still in place include sanitizing all equipment with each member using cleaning solution and towels provided by staff. Certain machines are marked as unavailable to help maintain distance, a requirement for gyms to operate at 100 percent capacity at Level Blue and below. The club also has plenty of space for people to spread out, updated ventilation systems, and activities like swimming that are known to be less likely to pass on COVID-19.

“We are a safe community of people that are working together to positively improve physical and mental health,” Masloski told CBS4 on Wednesday.

(credit: CBS)

The new guidelines hope to create a better sense of community, inviting more people back into gyms as well as encouraging the public to feel more comfortable at large outdoor events for the first time since the pandemic.

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“We need it, we need each other, now more than ever, we need folks to know that they’re not alone,” Foo said.

Shawn Chitnis