Vail area still awaiting decision on pandemic easements |

Vail area still awaiting decision on pandemic easements

A bicyclist wears two face masks while moving along 14th Avenue at Bannock Street Friday, June 12, 2020, in Denver. Eagle County is currently awaiting an answer from officials in Denver on a request to ease pandemic restrictions locally.
Associated Press

Hotels can now go back to full occupancy in Eagle County, but the full transition into the next phase of pandemic easements is still pending.

The county was anticipating a June 22 shift into its third phase of the transition trail map , the “black diamond” phase of COVID-19 restrictions, which would allow larger gatherings, but had not yet received a decision from the state on that as of Monday.

Eagle County submitted a variance request on June 9, asking the state for permission to move into the Black Diamond phase.

“While the county awaits this variance, public health officials have identified areas where the county may loosen certain restrictions in its current order,” Eagle County communications director Kris Widlak wrote in a release issued Monday evening.

When the state issued its “Safer At Home and In the Vast, Great Outdoors” public health order on June 18, Eagle County held off on allowing the full gathering availability offered by the state. The county also kept its 50% hotel occupancy restrictions intact. Both of those restrictions were removed in Eagle County on Monday to align with those set by the state.

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“County officials are still hopeful that a decision on the variance request will be made soon,” Widlak wrote on Monday. “The state could approve, approve with conditions, or deny the request.”

Recent spike in cases

Eagle County has seen a recent spike in cases, with 25 new cases reported over the weekend.

In a meeting of the Eagle County Commissioners on Monday, commissioners said the outbreaks came from family gatherings where guests were in close proximity.

“I think this outbreak that we’ve had, there’s lot of nuances in it, and it isn’t really mask related,” said commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry.

Commissioners said family gathering areas like local campgrounds have been especially busy in recent weeks.

Chandler-Henry said on Sunday she was told by a Sylvan Lake State Park ranger that it was “the craziest day in the history of Sylvan Lake.”

“There had to be hundreds of people there,” Chandler-Henry said. “There were big family gathering groups there, birthday parties and Father’s Day.”

Mask mandates

In Monday’s meeting, commissioners said they have received complaints to the effect of “I told you so,” regarding the county’s reluctance to make masks mandatory and the recent spike in cases.

Nevertheless, commissioners maintained that they don’t believe a mandatory mask order would increase compliance.

The Aspen area, where masks are mandatory, recently had a spike in cases, as well, said county commissioner Matt Scherr.

“It’s not such a cause and effect where you can say (an area with a mask order) has lower cases,” Chandler-Henry said.

Commissioners said making masks mandatory would increase calls to the sheriff.

“It makes (law enforcement officers) busy for no real end purpose,” Scherr said.

Updates on the county’s response to COVID-19 are being shared at The county’s forum for community discussions is at Those with additional questions can email or call 970-328-9750.

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