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Pitkin County moving to Red level restrictions for nearly every sector

“Orange-plus-plus” status starts Tuesday and includes new limits on gatherings, business capacity, lodging rules

Skiers get in the queue for the Elk Camp gondola in Snowmass on Dec. 21, 2020.

With local cases of COVID-19 at an “astronomical” level, Pitkin County will voluntarily move to Red level restrictions for nearly all sectors starting Tuesday.

The only two exceptions to the Red level will be restaurants — which will be allowed to operate at current 25% indoor capacity with a 9:30 p.m. last call and hard close at 10 p.m. — and indoor events that followed the rules and submitted safety plans by Sunday.

The county’s request last week to extend last call in Aspen to 11 p.m. during the two-week period around Christmas was denied by Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Director Jill Hunsacker Ryan, said Jordana Sabella, the county’s interim public health director. With a skyrocketing incidence rate, Ryan said the county should implement more restrictions not less, according to Sabella.



“Our Orange-plus (level restrictions implemented a month ago) have not worked to bring our incidence rate down,” Sabella said Monday during a hastily called meeting of the Pitkin County Board of Health. “It continues to grow at an exponential rate and that is concerning.”

Members of the board of health debated whether to impose the gamut of Red level restrictions, though they decided against doing so a by razor-thin 4-3 vote. While there was concern about restaurants being able to make money, the majority felt that closing them during the holiday period would only force people into private social gatherings that have shown to be particularly virulent in spreading COVID-19.



Instead, the board adopted what many termed “Orange-plus-plus” level restrictions, which are mainly Red.

That means beginning Tuesday, no indoor personal gatherings will be allowed in Pitkin County at all. Residents and visitors alike will only be able to socialize with members of their own household, which will apply to local restaurant’s in that only members of the same household will be able to be seated together at a table and lodging situations.

Indoor events will be canceled, except the seven events already permitted by Pitkin County Public Health through Jan. 4. That number is suspiciously low for this time of year, leading Sabella to say she suspected that many planned gatherings did not file safety plans. Board members decided to reward those who followed the rules and honor them.

Outdoor events will be allowed to continue at 25% capacity or a maximum of 60 people.

Those events, however, will not include Aspen’s traditional New Year’s Eve fireworks display, which Aspen City Councilwoman Ann Mullins said was canceled. The city council felt the fireworks would only encourage people to gather, she said.

People enjoy a sunny afternoon at Base Camp Bar and Grill in Snowmass Base Village on Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Retail businesses will be allowed to continue to operate at 50% capacity, but gyms and offices must cap their numbers at 10% of capacity starting Tuesday.

Schools and ski operations will not be affected by the new public health order.

NEARING RED LEVEL

Pitkin County’s new restrictions under new Public Health Order, which begins Tuesday:

Personal gatherings: Sizes are reduced to zero. Only congregate with your own household. This applies to all lodging reservations and accommodations.

Restaurants: permitted to operate at 25% occupancy with 9:30 p.m. last call and 10 p.m. closure. Restaurants only seat groups of same households

Group camps: Virtual or outdoors no more than 10.

Critical and non-critical retail: 50% capacity with curbside pickup encouraged

Personal services: 25% capacity up to 25 people

Office: 10% capacity

Gyms: 10% capacity up to 10 people per room. Reservations required.

Indoor events: None as of Dec. 20. No additional indoor Event Safety Plans will be accepted. Indoor Events with an ESP submitted as of Dec. 20 are permitted. ESP’s submitted after Dec. 20 for Indoor Events will not be permitted.

Outdoor events: still permitted at 25% capacity or 60 people

Outdoor guided services: 25% capacity up to 10 people

Traveler Affidavit: All persons traveling, including residents, are required to complete the Traveler Affidavit (including testing and quarantine requirements) if they have been gone from Pitkin County for more than 10 days.

This is a developing story that will be updated.


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