Bars and nightclubs close again, next phase of reopening announced
By Amber McIver-Traywick
On Tuesday Gov. Jared Polis made two major announcements during a news conference about the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Bars and nightclubs are once again ordered to be closed after having been opened at 25% capacity or with up to 50 people only two weeks prior and the unveiling of a county-specific next phase of reopening called “Protect Our Neighbors” was announced.
The governor’s decision to re-close bars and nightclubs came after state collected data has shown a slight uptick of cases in Colorado over the past two weeks particularly in younger demographics. Gov. Polis cited conversations he has had with governors of surrounding states who partially attribute the dramatic increases in the number of COVID-19 patients in their states, Texas and Arizona, with gatherings in these types of venues. Polis said the increase of the virus in younger adults, “…likely relates to a couple of causes” and included large parties, bars, nightclubs and, “potentially the large public gatherings and the protest movements that we’ve seen outside.”
Bars are still able to remain open if they sell food and can continue to sell to-go alcoholic drinks. The closures will remain in effect for the next 30 days. As of Tuesday, Larimer County Health officials had not received direct information about the variances they received for bars, taprooms, wineries and other similar venues being allowed to remain open in the county and how this might affect them.
On Tuesday, the state recorded 204 new cases of the novel coronavirus. Since March, a total of 32,715 people have tested positive for the respiratory disease COVID-19, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
The state health department also confirmed another 12 people have died due to COVID-19. So far,1,520 people have died from the disease, while 1,690 people have died potentially from other causes but tested positive for the virus as well.
With the unveiling of the next phase of reopening the state is calling “Protect Our Neighbors” communities will have the ability to open based on the specific conditions of their area. Counties and regions will apply to the state in order to be considered for this phase of reopening turning more power over to local health officials and away from state-wide orders. A list of qualifications and the requirement to submit a mitigation plan should there be a surge in COVID-19 cases to move into the next phase were presented by Dr. Rachel Herlihy, M.D., MPH, branch director and state epidemiologist.
The qualification for counties and regions to enter this phase include sufficient hospital bed capacity, PPE supplies, stable or declining cases of COVID-19 hospitalizations, sufficient testing capacity and the ability to implement case investigation and contact tracing protocols.
Herlihy said that to continue to see progress, “people who have symptoms of covid-19 or test positive must isolate as soon as symptoms start – people who think they have been exposed should get tested and quarantine” She continued by saying that under all levels of reopening community members should continue to take preventative actions to limit their risk of getting or spreading the virus including wearing a mask in public, washing hands frequently, social distancing and considering the risk of activities you choose to participate in.
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