EAGLE COUNTY, Colo. – Starting Monday, Eagle County will reopen to dine-in services at restaurants at bars at reduced capacity, allow guided tours and reopen playgrounds, and allow larger gatherings and some visitors if they have been free of COVID-19 symptoms for at least a week and a half.
The move to what the county is calling its “Blue Phase” was approved Friday by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and will begin Monday, May 25.
Under the updated public health order, gatherings of up to 50 people will be allowed as long as social distancing requirements are met.
Click here to read the variance request from the county
Click here to read the granting of the variance by the CDPHE
Dine-in services at restaurants and bars will also be allowed to re-open dine-in services, but indoor seating will be limited to 50% or less of the number of tables the restaurant had on March 5.
They will also not be allowed to have more than 50 people at the location so long as social distancing measures are met. Outdoor seating will not be limited, but patrons of the restaurant or bar will not be allowed to take alcohol with them when leaving a dine-in service, though takeout beverage services would still be allowed.
Short-term lodging in Eagle County can also resume with 50% or less occupancy capacity at a time if lodging operators develop a plan in compliance with the public health order and meet some other requirements.
Guided tours and playgrounds will be allowed to reopen if they meet proper social distancing and sanitation requirements.
“We view the risk of disease transmission to be lower in an outdoor environment when the activity is low contact and where ongoing, sustained contact by individuals outside one’s household can be avoided and social distancing can be maintained at all times,” CDPHE Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan wrote in approving the variance. “The outdoor environment, while not risk-free, coupled with the protections that you describe in your plan and the few additional requirements here, provide a reasonable basis for the approval of this portion of the Phase 2 of the variance application.”
Indoor and outdoor personal training classes will be limited to 50 or fewer people with appropriate social distancing, but indoor personal training classes will still be limited to 10 or fewer people.
The county’s updated order requires that a non-local resident must be free of COVID-19 symptoms for 10 days before they can come to Eagle County and for them to screen themselves for symptoms each morning while they are in the county.
Anyone who develops COVID-19 symptoms during their stay in the county will have to self-quarantine for 14 days “even if this prolongs their stay in Eagle County at the traveler’s expense,” the order states.
Saunas and steam rooms will remain closed under the updated order, as will business that only serve high-risk populations and any businesses or rec centers that cannot meet social distancing requirements or limit person-to-person interactions.
The county says that it will continue to strongly recommend the use of face coverings for everyone and require them for employees in places where social distancing cannot be maintained.
The county is also urging everyone to continue to maintain 6 feet of social distance, wash their hands, wear face coverings, stay home when sick and get tested if they have symptoms.
Ryan wrote in granting the variance that it will be automatically rescinded if new cases in Eagle County double over two consecutive five-day periods, it reaches a 10% or more positivity rate, or 12 or more hospitalizations happen at once.
“The data and information included in your request demonstrates that Eagle’s COVID-19 cases have been declining since the peak of cases in March, and the county has the capacity to investigate 12 cases a day if needed,” Ryan wrote. “Additionally, Vail Health Hospital has confirmed that with the disease prevention model undertaken within the jurisdiction, it has the resources needed to treat patients.
Eagle County, home to the Vail ski resort, was among the hardest-hit counties in the state early in the COVID-19 crisis but has since recovered and been praised by Gov. Jared Polis for their efforts to contain the virus.
The county has targeted June 22 for its move to Phase 3, the “Black Phase,” which would further lessen restrictions, including a move to allow gatherings of up to 250 people.
Ryan wrote in granting the variance that the county should resubmit that proposal after Phase 2 goes into effect and the county can gather more data about its effects.
According to the state, there have been 21 counties that have had variances approved as of Saturday morning.