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All Level Red counties will move to Level Orange on Monday, Jan. 4
Contact: Nicole Valentine, Public Affairs Coordinator, Summit County Public Health
Editor's Note: This article was updated on Jan. 4 to reflect updated information from CDPHE that Five Star Certified businesses will be able to operate under the less-restrictive Level Yellow regulations only if Summit County’s three milestone metrics – hospital capacity, testing positivity and case incidence – all drop to Level Orange or below and remain there for at least 7 days (previously 14).
SUMMIT COUNTY – Gov. Jared Polis has announced that all Colorado counties currently in Level Red restrictions, including Summit County, will be moved to Level Orange on Monday, Jan. 4, citing 13 days of decreasing case numbers and sufficient ICU bed availability statewide. Summit County Public Health issued an amended local public health order Thursday evening to align with the state’s new guidance. Level Orange permits personal gatherings of up to 10 people from a maximum of 2 households and allows indoor dining at restaurants at up to 25 percent capacity or 50 people, whichever is fewer.
“Our COVID-19 case numbers continue to decline, slowly and steadily, which is really encouraging through the holiday season. We’ve cut our two-week incidence rate almost in half since the beginning of December,” Summit County Public Health Director Amy Wineland said. “We know many of our businesses and workers have been struggling, so this move to Level Orange is very much welcome and deserved. Summit County residents and businesses have earned this through lots of hard work and commitment to keeping our community safe and healthy.”
Summit County must comply with all Level Orange requirements in the CDPHE Public Health Order and all applicable state guidance. Locally determined Level Red capacity limits at ski areas will no longer apply; ski areas will be allowed to operate at their state-approved plan capacity limits. The amended local public health order prohibits the operation of bars and requires restaurants to stop all on-premises service, sale and consumption of alcohol at 9:30 p.m.; takeout sales of alcohol must cease by 10:30 p.m. The order does not contain a required closing time for food service.
The new health order takes effect at 12:01 a.m., Monday, Jan. 4. Summit County Public Health will conduct a virtual town hall to review the details of the new order at 10:30 a.m., Monday, Jan. 4. Details will be published on the Summit County Facebook page.
“We want to acknowledge that restaurants have worked very hard to be partners in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” Wineland said. “However, late-night alcohol consumption has facilitated the spread of the coronavirus among employees and patrons in the past. The requirement to stop all alcohol consumption by staff and customers promptly at 9:30 p.m. is critically important.”
The allowance of personal gatherings by up to 10 people from no more than two households applies to both residents and visitors. So lodging units, including short-term vacation rentals, are subject to these limits. Short-term lodging owners and operators must verify that any reservation for a lodging unit does not include individuals from more than two households. Lodging guests who violate the two-household limit are subject to fines of up to $5,000 or up to 18 months in jail or both.
As of Dec. 31, the Summit County two-week cumulative case incidence is 723 cases per 100,000 residents – an encouraging decline from the peak of 1,356 per 100,000 on Dec. 3. However, there is still much progress to be made before entering the Level Orange case incidence threshold of 350 per 100,000. Hospital capacity remains good in Summit County, and our 14-day testing positivity rate is nearing the threshold for Level Blue, at 5.7 percent.
“We are still encouraging our residents to get tested for COVID-19 at the very first sign of any symptoms and after any known or suspected exposure to the virus. And certainly, stay home if you’re sick,” Wineland said. “For those who do get infected, it’s incredibly important that you cooperate with our contact tracing team when they reach out to you. They are there to support you in your isolation and to help protect your family, friends, coworkers, roommates and neighbors from contracting the virus. Contact tracing is one of the cornerstones of our work to prevent outbreaks and stop the continued spread of illness through the community.”
Even though Summit County’s current disease incidence rate is aligned with the CDPHE's Level Red, state officials have decided that the agency will not continue to require Level Red restrictions at this time. Instead, the governor has opted for an incremental reduction in restrictions to Level Orange, in hopes that these restrictions will be sufficient to control the incidence of new COVID-19 cases.
Five Star businesses will remain in Level Orange restrictions. Certified businesses will be able to operate under the less-restrictive Level Yellow regulations only if Summit County’s three milestone metrics – hospital capacity, testing positivity and case incidence – all drop to Level Orange or below and remain there for at least 7 days. Those targets are a case incidence rate of 350 per 100,000 or less, a positivity rate of less than 15 percent and stable or declining hospitalization rates.
CDPHE reserves the right to move Summit County to a more restrictive level at any point should circumstances warrant more aggressive restrictions. CDPHE has not provided any timeline for such potential increases in restrictions, but it will continue to monitor COVID-19 data and respond accordingly.
Summit County continues to see outbreaks associated with events, gatherings, parties and activities at various workplaces and venues. The intent of the amended Summit County Public Health Order is to minimize contact among individuals from different households and to reduce the public's exposure to the virus. County officials hope these requirements will obviate a return to tighter restrictions and closures imposed by the state.
“The majority of the outbreaks we have seen in Summit County have stemmed from social gatherings, parties and instances where the Six Commitments to Containment have not been followed. Requiring restaurants and bars to stop the consumption of alcohol at 9:30 p.m. and prohibiting gatherings of more than two households are targeted measures to keep our case numbers under control while allowing our economy to remain open,” Wineland said. “Our community's strict compliance with the requirements is the only way we will keep ourselves from going backwards on the state dial.”
The amended local public health order and State of Colorado Level Orange requirements specify the following allowances and restrictions:
Enforcement of the public health order is a critical strategy for reducing the spread of the coronavirus. If an individual or business is not complying with the Public Health Order, community members can call 970-668-8600 to make an anonymous report.
To view the local public health order, including the mitigation measures for events, businesses, short-term lodging, restaurants and bars, visit: https://www.summitcountyco.gov/AlertCenter.aspx?AID=Public-Health-Order-Closures-for-COVID19-18.
To view the state public health order, including detailed guidance on operation of restaurants and bars, visit https://covid19.colorado.gov/prepare-protect-yourself/prevent-the-spread/public-health-executive-orders.
Information on Summit County case data and trends can be found on the COVID-19 Data Dashboard.