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Colorado communities moving toward ‘protect our neighbors’ phase of reopening

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Posted at 5:05 PM, Jun 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-16 08:06:58-04

DENVER — Proclaiming a downward trend in statewide COVID-19 numbers, Gov. Jared Polis followed Monday with the announcement that more virus-related restrictions will be eased under what he calls the "protect your neighbor" phase of reopening Colorado.

Communities must qualify to enter this phase by demonstrating that they are reducing the spread of the virus and are effectively responding to outbreaks and contact tracking.

"From the very start, we knew we live in a big, diverse state. I was proud that we were the first state to allow for local flexibility through the variance process. It's great for areas with a lower virus count. Now, I feel we can take it further, tailoring solutions at the local level," Polis said.

This third phase, which is in draft status at the moment and seeking community input, means different parts of the state may be at different reopening stages.

"Along with local control, comes local responsibility. An outbreak in Sterling doesn't mean Mesa County should shut down. We're partnering with local public health to protect us," Polis said.

Protect your neighbor follows safer at home guidelines, which was phased in starting in late April. Under that second level, retail businesses were allowed to start offering curbside delivery and more medical procedures opened up.

On Monday, Polis also announced indoor spaces, including bars, would soon be allowed to open at 25% capacity or 50 people, whichever is fewer. The state will allow for public comment on the guidelines before finalizing them later this week,

State health officials anticipate a larger second wave of COVID-19 infections in the fall, along with seasonal influenza. They are hoping these new guidelines will limit the impact it may have on Colorado's healthcare system.