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Larimer Level-Up Businesses can operate with fewer restrictions per county order

By: Dan Karpiel | The Surveyor | February 04, 2021 | Business

Larimer County businesses got some good news on Wednesday morning as county officials announced that businesses previously certified under the “Level Up” program can begin operating at Level Three (or “Yellow”) capacities and restriction levels. The announcement was made as COVID-19 case rates, hospitalizations and other such metrics have reached a level where business restrictions can be loosened, the county said.

The Level-Up program was created by local small businesses working in conjunction with chambers of commerce, county commissioners and health department representatives to create a means by which businesses can apply for a variance to operate at one level higher, essentially one level less restrictive, should a number of conditions be met.

Large chain grocers and retailers, such as Home Depot, Wal-Mart and King Soopers, among others, never faced the same restrictions that small, family-owned businesses in the county did, much to the consternation of small business owners and their employees. The unequitable treatment led small businesses to band together to create and get approval for the Level-Up program.

On Jan. 4, Larimer County moved to Level Four (Orange) on the state’s COVID-19 risk dial after being at Level Five (Red) since just prior to Thanksgiving. The move to down to Level Four/Orange allowed local small businesses, most notably restaurants, breweries and personal services like salons and spas, to return to indoor dining and small capacities increases.

A few days prior, on Dec. 30, the Level-Up program was approved by the Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and inspections to assure conditions outlined in the Level-Up program would be met, commenced immediately. Hundreds of small businesses received Level-Up certification just prior to the County moving to Level Four/Orange.

Yet, for the duration of the month of January, Level-Up certified businesses, which now number well over 300, were not allowed to operate at Level Three/Yellow as the metrics used to monitor the incidence and spread of the virus remained above predetermined levels. This was frustrating for many small businesses but many remained optimistic they would be able to move to Level Three/Yellow in short time as case rates and hospitalizations followed a steady downward trend through the month of January.

The metrics for Level-Up to be in effect included the per 100,000 case rate to drop and remain below 350, a two-week positivity rate of or less than 15%, ICU bed usage rates across the county at 90% or below and at least seven days of stable or declining hospitalizations over the two previous weeks. Those metrics were attained on Wednesday morning and Level-Up certified businesses were informed they could begin operating at Level Three/Yellow.

In a press release from Small Business for a Healthy Loveland, the organization of local small businesses that spearheaded the Level Up program in December, read, “Great News: All Level Up certified businesses in Larimer County can now operate under Yellow capacity. That means your favorite restaurants, breweries and bars in the Level Up program will be at 50% capacity – go support them!” The release, provided by Morgen Harrington, who co-chairs the group, also stated, “The governor’s office has also indicated that additional changes to the “dial” system will be coming as more Coloradans are vaccinated. The timing and changes are still unclear.”

Additional information regarding the Level Up program, including a list of approved businesses, can be found www.nocorecovers.com/larimer-level-up.

 

 

 

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