Chaffee County is moving ahead in its next steps in reopening after the state approved the county’s variance request Thursday.

Effective today, businesses including retail food establishments, places of worship, gyms and fitness centers, recreation facilities, outfitters and guided activities, bowling alleys and outdoor hot springs may reopen under strict health and safety requirements to reduce transmission of COVID-19.

Chaffee County Public Health reported that the variance request, submitted to the state on May 8, was approved with some standing restrictions and additional requirements.

The local request was made to lift restrictions on several industries that are still closed under state executive and public health orders based on Chaffee County’s stable COVID-19 numbers.

Gov. Jared Polis is expected to make an announcement about restrictions still in effect in the safer-at-home order Monday, under which there could be additional industry requirements.

Chaffee County Public Health Director Andrea Carlstrom said it is important the public doesn’t lose sight of how we got to this phase.

“It is because of the sacrifices we all made during the stay-at-home and first few weeks of the safer-at-home orders,” she said.

Those orders included wearing masks, washing and sanitizing hands and social distancing.

“I urge everyone to continue these basic practices to protect our community’s most vulnerable. Please respect the health and safety requirements and our business community’s adherence of them.

“We must get this right the first time; we all must take personal responsibility and accountability in the days ahead,” Carlstrom said in a press release.

Chaffee County Public Health stated that in all settings, the following requirements must be met:

• Customers or patrons should be asked about symptoms before entering or participating in the activity, and service or participation should be declined if they are symptomatic.

• Employees must be screened for symptoms each day before beginning work, and those who are symptomatic must be excluded and required to remain in isolation for 10 days.

Retail food establishments


Restaurants are encouraged to continue to do business through takeout, delivery and curbside pickup. If they choose, they can provide limited dine-in service.

Public Health is allowing restaurants to open this weekend without a Certificate of Safety, and Wano Urbonas, environmental health manager, will be working with each of them in the near future through the health department’s retail food program to issue certificates.

Actual bar areas are to remain closed under the variance. Tasting rooms of breweries, wineries and distilleries may open under the same restrictions as restaurants.

Restrictions include:

• Indoor seating capacity must not exceed 30 percent of seating capacity, not to exceed 50 people, whichever is lower.

• Tables must be spaced at least 6 feet apart.

• A reservation system should be implemented, notifying customers via text or call when their table is ready.

• Require customers to wear cloth face coverings to enter the business and keep them in place until they have reached their table.

• Ask customers if they are experiencing any symptoms prior to seating them in the dining area, and do not allow them to enter if they are.

• Group parties are limited to 10.

Places of worship


Places of worship are encouraged to continue offering online, outdoor or drive-up services as much as possible.

For activities within a facility, places of worship will be allowed to increase the number of participants if they choose. Guidelines include:

• Limit the number of guests to no more than 30 percent seating occupancy, provided that there’s at least 6 feet of distance between individuals or between groups of a single household.

• Guests will not be permitted to wait in the lobby area or in lines outside the door. No mingling time before, during or after services.

• Masks will be required for all guests, when at all possible.

• Implement touchless offering and communion options as much as possible (e.g., do not pass around the offering plate, make available individual offerings that can be picked up by individuals to limit touching, prepackaged and/or carryout).

• No self-service refreshments.

Fitness centers


Gyms, health clubs and other similar fitness facilities will be able to open their facilities for limited use. Fitness facilities that choose to open under those limits must do so under guidelines that include:

• Members must wear a face covering while using the facility, when physically possible.

• Spread people out so there is at least a 10-foot social distance between individuals throughout the facility.

• Sharing of equipment must be prohibited. Use of equipment in the fitness center must be limited to no closer than every other machine so participants are not exercising right next to each other, and smaller exercise rooms with poor ventilation should be discouraged from use.

• Personal training is allowed while strictly adhering to social distancing guidelines and limited to four people, plus the instructor.

• Group classes are not allowed.

• Sports courts are to remain closed.

• Locker rooms must remain closed

• Saunas, pools (indoor and outdoor) and shared spaces (locker rooms, changing rooms, waiting areas, etc.) must remain closed.

• On-site child care facilities must remain closed.

Recreation

Local recreational facilities can be open to the public under guidelines. Chaffee County or any municipality can enact stricter orders as seen fit.

Guidelines include:

• Group gatherings must be kept to 10 people or less.

• Park facilities conducive to gathering, including shelters, picnic areas and playgrounds, are to remain closed.

• Swim beaches, swimming pools and splash pads are to remain closed.

• League or pickup sports are prohibited at this time.

• Spaces that enable social distancing, such as trails, green space, tennis courts and golf courses, may be open for use.

• Outdoor recreation facilities may remain open when adequate controls are able to be implemented to ensure 6-foot social distancing.

Privately owned campgrounds and RV parks may be open for use if they can strictly adhere to social distancing guidelines and operate at a 50 percent capacity, leaving every other campsite open to allow for proper distancing.

Groups must be limited to members of the same household. All shared facilities must remain closed with the exception of bathrooms, which must be cleaned every two hours and have a maintained cleaning log.

Outfitters/guided activities


Local outfitters, to include rafting companies, fly fishing and ziplines, may be open under strict adherence criteria, which include:

• Social distancing of 6 feet must be adhered to.

• Group reservations should be kept to groups of the same household.

• Customers will be required to wear face coverings, where possible.

• Tours and zipline groups must be limited only to members of the same household.

• Rafting trips will allow for trips of four or fewer individuals of a mixed group or single households (not including the raft guide).

• All equipment such as helmets, life jackets, safety harnesses and any other shared equipment must be cleaned in a sanitizing solution after each use and allowed to air dry before reuse.

Bowling alley


• Guests must wear a face covering while using the facility, when physically possible.

• All guests and staff must practice good hand hygiene, either hand washing or sanitizer.

• Bowling balls and shoes will be sanitized each day before opening and after each use. Bowling balls should be limited use.

• Reservations must be made, sold in two-hour blocks and prepayment will be required.

• At the time the reservation is made, shoe sizes will be taken and shoes will be at the lane before they arrive. Guests will be told to arrive five minutes before their scheduled time and to leave as soon as their session is over.

• Staff will visit each lane for orders to reduce the need for customers to leave their lane area.

Outdoor hot Springs


• Hours of operation will be reduced based on occupancy.

• Optimal water quality will be required to inactivate any viruses, including COVID-19.

• Swimming/soaking facilities will be cleaned daily beginning first thing in the morning.

• Water will continuously be monitored and proper water balance will be maintained.

• No more than 10 people will soak in a pool at one time, preferably fewer.

• All guests will be encouraged to come dressed for soaking, and locker rooms will remain closed.

• Private pools will be available to rent for private soaking in 50-minute increments.

• Reservations and prepayment will be required.

• Limited spa services will follow personal care requirements.

In all cases symptomatic employees must be excluded from the workplace

Employees and contracted workers will be required to wear a nonmedical cloth face covering over the nose and mouth. Those who cannot wear a mask will not be permitted to work at this time.

To view the full variance requirements, visit chaffeecounty.org.

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