Denver COVID restrictions to end this weekend with move to Level Clear

Denver businesses will be allowed to operate at full capacity without physical distancing once the county moves to Level Clear on Sunday, ushering in a new phase of the pandemic as almost all remaining COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

Additionally, as of Saturday, fully vaccinated people will no longer be required to wear masks in most indoor settings as Denver will align its local mask order with the statewide mask mandate. Gov. Jared Polis lifted most of the statewide mask order on Friday, only requiring face coverings in hospitals, schools and prisons.

Businesses, though, remain free to require customers to wear masks.

“Let this serve as a strong incentive to get vaccinated,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said at a news conference. “This is happening because people got the shot;”

With the move to Level Clear, the only remaining COVID-19 policies in place will be the mostly lifted mask order and a state public health order requiring indoor events with 500 or more people to get approval from the state health department.

Polis also said Friday all public health orders, including those two, will be phased out by June 1.

“The pandemic is not yet over, but if you are vaccinated it is largely over for you,” he said during a briefing. “If you are not vaccinated, please, take this moment to have the urgency to get vaccinated.”

Denver is removing public health measures in conjunction with other counties in the metro area, including Jefferson, Arapahoe, Adams, Boulder and Broomfield.

For the past month, the counties have operated at Level Blue on the state’s now-retired color-coded dial system, which allowed restaurants and gyms to operate at full capacity with at least 6 feet of distancing.

Eagle County public health officials also plan to lift COVID-19 policies on May 19, a move that comes earlier than expected as case rates decline and vaccinations increase. By doing so, the county will remove all local mask orders, restrictions on gatherings and business capacities, according to a news release.

Many other counties in the state lifted their public health measures when the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment handed control of those policies to local authorities in April.

Paul Epstein, the owner of the Twist & Shout record store in Denver, said he will no longer require masks in his record store once all of his roughly 32 employees are fully vaccinated.

“Almost everybody is at least one shot in here,” he said. “Once they are completely fully vaccinated then I will do what the rest of the city is doing.”

The store is big, so it hasn’t hit the capacity and social distancing limits that have been in place for much of the past year, although he said Twist & Shout has controlled how many people are inside at any given time.

“This is going to feel like diving off the diving board and someone is going to have to do it first,” Epstein said of the relaxation of public health rules.

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