DENVER — Event venues across the state are now preparing for their first indoor gatherings in months.
On Wednesday, Gov. Jared Polis announced that the state's sustained decline of COVID-19 cases would allow for Colorado counties in Level Red to move to Level Orange on Jan. 4.
In addition to increasing capacities at businesses and restaurants the change will also allow for indoor gatherings to resume, which have been banned in Denver since late November.
While indoor gatherings can resume, venues must still follow a series of capacity restrictions, seen here.
"We specialize in large events: weddings, bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs. So you know, having 50 people in our event center is really not the the number we need to be at," O'Dea said.
On Thursday, Denver officials announced they had applied for the state's 5 Star Certification Program. The program encourages businesses to implement extra safety measures beyond what public health orders require. In exchange, businesses can operate with fewer capacity restrictions than listed at their county's current dial level.
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At least three Colorado counties have already been approved for the program.
O'Dea is hopeful Denver's application will be approved, swiftly.
"We're hopeful that that will get us up to 100-150 as that progresses," O'Dea said.
"It's good to see Denver not so far behind the other counties now, it seems like we're more in line with other counties now." said Stephanie Helzer, Mile High Station & Ironworks Director of Sales & Marketing. "We're just trying to show that we can safely run an event. [For example] you can go into a supermarket and you're walking around mingling. Events aren't like that. We have full control of what's going on, and we've been wanting to be heard. I do feel like this 5 Star program is going to give us the opportunity to show that we can run [events] safely,"
Helzer added that both Mile High Station and Ironworks suffered tremendous financial losses by being closed for part of their peak quarter.
"December is huge for us and that's a huge corporate holiday season and there were corporations who were willing to do events and it was heartwarming to see that they wanted to give locally - they wanted to support us," Helzer said. "But we just couldn't, and we understand why. It's just really heartbreaking to see where we are at."
O'Dea said he was equally as heartbroken to furlough employees as the pandemic continued,
"We typically employee about 125 part-time employees. A lot of them are moms, waiters and waitresses. To actually have to let them all go back after the PPP loan dried up in June, it's just really disturbing," O'Dea said. "Furloughed, laid off. Its just been really tough. The 125 part-time people are what makes Mile High Station and Ironworks special. For us to have to let them stay home is devastating,"