Gov. Jared Polis speaks on his plans for a greener Colorado at the Net Zero Cities event in Loveland on March 5. Ali C. M. Watkins/BizWest

Polis orders bars, nightclubs to shutter again

DENVER — Amid an uptick in COVID-19 cases across Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis ordered bars and nightclubs to stop in-person service again beginning in July.

In a press conference Tuesday, Polis pointed to a large outbreak in Michigan that was traced to a bar as evidence that indoor entertainment venues are still too great a risk of spreading coronavirus to large groups of a local population.

He also said the closures are meant to deter people from bordering hotspot states such as  Arizona and Utah from crossing the border to drink in Colorado.

“Our country, and the world has not yet figured out, in the pandemic, how to do bars and nightclubs safely,” he said.

State Epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy said the environments created within bars and clubs make transmission of the virus far easier. 

“With loud music, individuals tend to be crowded close together and talk more loudly,” she said.

Bars and nightclubs that didn’t serve food were allowed to reopen June 18 at 25% capacity. Bars, breweries and other alcohol-serving establishments that serve food are treated as regular restaurants.

State officials also said counties can apply starting next week to the “Protect Our Neighbors” rules, meant to balance economic and in-person activities with social distancing and protective measures. 

The criteria for moving toward the new rules includes having stable or declining hospitalizations and cases, a contact tracing and mitigation plan in place and enough hospital and personal protective equipment on hand depending on the county’s population. Counties can also band together to apply as a group.

Most businesses can reopen at 50% capacity under the “Protect Our Neighbors” rules, and bars could reopen at 25%.