DENVER -- Businesses are still anxiously awaiting 5 Star certification but a team of auditors has been deployed to see if those business are going and beyond to keep people safe.
As of Wednesday morning, 79 Denver businesses have been inspected and 44 have received certification. Businesses that have not received certification are working working on action plans in hopes of meeting the requirements.
The 5 Star program was launched while Denver was under Level Orange on the state's COVID-19 dial. The goal was to allow a certified business to operate under Level Yellow restrictions, which includes up to 50% capacity for indoor dining. Just days after accepting the first application, the state announced changes to the dial that loosened restrictions in several counties.
Denver was among the counties that would allow businesses to operate at 50% capacity and the change caused confusion for 5 Star applicants.
According to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, counties in Level Yellow on the Dial 2.0 that have a 5 Star program may only operate in Level Blue once 70% of 70-year-olds in the state are vaccinated with at least one dose. Additional information on the dial change is available here.
“The reason why we’re doing the 5 Star program, currently we’re restricted to a tournament size of 25 people, but we have a 15,000-square-foot building," said Nathan Anderson, the owner and head coach at the Denver Fencing Center.
Anderson applied for the program because he wants the ability to host fencing tournaments in a safe way. When you walk into his business, you'll see signs with the current CDC guidelines, hand sanitizer and a thermometer for temperature checks.
“I hope we can all kind of work together and keep people safe," said Anderson.
After an auditor completed a walk-through of his business, they sat down to go over a checklist and his business was approved.
"So in the event that there’s another spike in COVID. the 5 Star is giving the opportunity to not have to shutdown, just dial back a little bit to remain operational," said Morgan Boyles, an auditor who is conducting inspections.
A spokesperson for the Denver Economic Development and Opportunity said although the dial change makes the program less impactful at the moment, it will gives customers and employees peace of mind. The city also plans to boost marketing efforts for certified businesses and it will make a big difference for event venues.