Hotels, restaurants, venues among businesses starting to apply for 5 Star certification
Participants won’t see restriction exemptions just yet
It took some time, but Eagle County is finally launching a 5 Star Business Certification program to help businesses. But the county’s recent move to yellow level COVID-19 restrictions may have made the program a little less important.
The 5 Star program began in 2020 in Mesa County. The state of Colorado’s program is similar. The program allows businesses to have relief from COVID-19 restrictions, essentially allowing businesses to adjust capacity to one level lower on the state’s dial, as long as those businesses pass inspections regarding sanitation, ventilation and other practices.
At the moment, participants in the county’s 5 Star program must continue to adhere to yellow level occupancy and other restrictions. Eagle County doesn’t yet have full state approval, but Deputy County Manager Kelley Collier said early Friday afternoon that approval was expected soon.
Approval inspections could begin late in the week of Feb. 22, which Collier called part of an effort to help businesses as much as possible while keeping guests and customers safe.
Collier said 5 Star businesses in Eagle County will be able to move to blue level restrictions once 70% of state residents 70 and older are vaccinated against the COVID virus.
But, Collier added, there are “other benefits” to certification, including consumer confidence in certified businesses.
As of early Friday afternoon, Collier said only a few local businesses had submitted applications. Only one business, a hotel, had submitted a full application including backup information.
Several other businesses — three hotels, three restaurants and a children’s summer camp — have submitted preliminary information.
Collier said county officials haven’t yet received a lot of phone calls, crediting a Feb. 16 virtual training for providing good initial information. That training had 94 participants representing businesses, local governments and chambers of commerce.
Being in the 5 Star program requires more of businesses than just complying with public health orders. And some businesses may not be able to take advantage of increased capacity due to limited physical space for social distancing or the ability to properly ventilate that space.
Vail Chamber & Business Association Director Alison Wadey said she’s heard from business owners who are weighing the pros and cons of applying for the program.
Business owners are weighing whether to stay at the current yellow level, or pursue certification. Businesses need to determine whether the 5 Star variance “would make things easier or more difficult,” Wadey said.
The Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek this week saw its occupancy increased from 50 to 100 for a performance. Vilar Senior Marketing Manager Ruthie Hamrick wrote in an email that the venue will also apply for 5 Star certification.
“Watching live performances together, with others, is truly an experience you can’t get from seeing something virtually,” she wrote.
Increased capacity, whether through the 5 Star program or current public health orders, will be good for other businesses, Wadey said.
The restrictions attached to the yellow level — particularly a later last call for bars — come at a good time, Wadey said, particularly with spring break coming in March.
For more information, visit http://www.eaglecounty.us.
• The 5 Star program began in Mesa County.
• Summit County’s program began in December.
• Eagle County had to wait until the COVID-19 case rate went below 350 per 100,000 population.
• To learn more, go to http://www.eaglecounty.us.