BOULDER — The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will move Boulder County to a higher level on the state’s regimen to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus amid weeks of rising caseloads.
Boulder County Public Health said it will be moved to the third level of “Safer At Home” on Friday, the most restrictive status a county can have other than a full stay-at-home order such as the ones implemented at the onset of the pandemic.
The higher level will invalidate any occupancy variances for businesses and gatherings granted by the local health department and cut capacity at businesses and places of worship from 50% to 25% or a maximum of 50 people.
Gyms will be limited to a maximum of 25 people in a building.
State health officials currently estimate that Boulder County is registering just more than 312 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, well above the third level’s threshold of 175 cases per 100,000 and approaching the 350 cases per 100,000 figure that would trigger a fresh round of stay-at-home orders.
Boulder County’s increase in the fall came alongside the start of CU Boulder’s fall semester with in-person classes, which eventually led the university to revert to all-online classes for weeks and a county-level order for all 18-to-22 year olds to self-isolate from late September into late October.
“This is devastating, especially because we know that we can prevent the transmission of this virus, and this change will impact our businesses severely, as well as our social and emotional health,” Boulder County Public Health executive director Jeff Zayach said in a statement.
Caseloads have increased across Colorado and the U.S. in recent weeks, which public health officials have warned about for months due to the cold weather driving more people indoors and fatigue from virus spread measures leading people to be more lax in social distancing and masking.
John Tayer, president and CEO of the Boulder Chamber, said his organization is continuing to provide services to help businesses that are hamstrung by the restrictions but ultimately has to rely on the area’s residents and businesses to abide by those measures and avoid further hurt for local companies.
“I don’t like it, I know the public health officials don’t like it, but the best available evidence tells us that’s the best way to help us to get back to a place where we’re in a much less dangerous and health-impacting situation,” he said.
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