DENVER – Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Monday outlined when the state will begin to look at how to reopen ski areas, restaurants and bars and announced that camping at state parks could begin Tuesday by reservation only.
The remaining counties that had extended their stay-at-home orders let those expire after last Friday and moved into the safer-at-home phase, under which most of the state has been operating since late last month.
Retailers can again allow in-person shopping with certain guidelines and businesses can bring back up to 50% of their workforce to the building at a time under the safer at home order.
But many Coloradans have been wondering when they might be able to go camping, as state and federal campgrounds have been closed since March, and when restaurants, bars, libraries and summer activities might be allowed to resume business.
On Monday, Polis outlined those next steps at a news conference after saying last week he hoped some of those businesses could reopen this month.
People can start booking campsites at state parks starting Tuesday if the counties where the campgrounds are located are allowing visitors. Camping will be allowed by reservation only, and federal officials have not yet decided when camping on federal grounds might resume. Polis is expected to discuss federal campgrounds when he meets with President Trump on Wednesday at the White House.
But the next big date for decision-making will come on May 25, Polis said. Then, officials will decide whether to allow ski resorts to open back up for spring skiing, when and how restaurants might be able to open back up, and if summer residential and day camps can open in June and under what conditions. The state on Monday ordered a Castle Rock restaurant that hosted large crowds and dine-in service Sunday shut down for disobeying the public health order.
After June 1, the governor said, the state would decide whether to modify the current safer at home order to phase in more activities and public spaces, such as libraries.
"We control our destiny," Polis said.
The governor was clear that he would only allow those types of businesses to reopen if state COVID-19 data showed it would be safe and feasible.
He said that the May 25 date is key because it is more than three weeks out from when much of the state moved to safer at home and more than two weeks since the metro area lifted its stay-at-home orders.
Since oftentimes people do not display symptoms of COVID-19 for days after they catch it, and it can take up to 14 days typically from when a person transmits the virus and tests positive for it, officials need to see how the safer-at-home phase has affected the spread of the virus after some restrictions were lifted.
As of Monday, Polis said, the reproductive value of the virus in Colorado was below 1, which is about where he said it would need to stay in order for the safer at home phase to be successful.
He said that if the data show that people can keep their social distancing from between 55% to 65% of a departure from normal, compared to the 75% the state saw during the stay-at-home order, then officials believe that the hospital and health care systems would not be overwhelmed.
“Just as retail stores had some time to prepare to reopen after we announced it in April, our restaurants need a few days to get ready and be as safe as possible. We control our own destiny and our decisions will depend on what the data is telling us about how people are succeeding at wearing masks and staying apart during Safer at Home,” Polis said in a statement. “If folks are doing a good job at social distancing, staying at home, and wearing masks or facial coverings when going out, it will show up in the data, and we will excitedly remove additional restrictions on our economy. If not, some communities could be forced to look at implementing additional temporary restrictions.”