DENVER – A day after Colorado became the first state in the U.S. to confirm the presence of a more contagious variant of the novel coronavirus, Gov. Jared Polis said in a late-night social media post Wednesday he’s asking the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to loosen restrictions on 33 of the state’s 64 counties due to a decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases and an improvement in ICU capacity statewide.
“Throughout this pandemic, we have had to walk a difficult line between the public health crisis and the economic crisis,” Polis said in the late-night post. “In reviewing the data today, Colorado has been in a sustained decline for 13 days, and only 73% of ICU beds statewide are in use.”
In light of this and based on this data, Polis wrote, “I'm asking CDPHE to move counties in Red on the dial to Orange, effective Monday, January 4, 2021.”
Under current restrictions, restaurants are not allowed to have indoor dining and gatherings of more than two non-households are prohibited.
Moving counties currently under Level Red to Level Orange on the state’s COVID-19 dial would allow those counties to reopen restaurants for indoor dining at 25% capacity (or 50 people) and gatherings would increase to no more than 10 people from two different households. Gyms would also see a capacity increase from 10% to 25% capacity.
Polis said the move would only apply to counties currently in Level Red, which accounts for more than half the state as of Wednesday night.
“This is a direct result of Coloradans stepping up and taking the steps to protect themselves and others,” Polis said in a prepared statement late Wednesday night, while urging Coloradans to remain vigilant and act with prudence as the year comes to a close.
“To save lives, maybe even your own, it is more important than ever that Coloradans not gather outside their household to celebrate the New Year, and to continue to take the basic steps to protect themselves and others, like wearing masks, only interacting with their own households, and staying 6ft apart from others when in public,” he said.