Mar 24, 2021 - News

Colorado eases mask rules and COVID-19 protocols

County COVID-19 status by color

County COVID-19 status. The green areas have the fewest restrictions, followed by blue, yellow, then orange. Image courtesy of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Gov. Jared Polis' administration on Wednesday removed most state COVID-19 restrictions for nearly half of Colorado.

Why it matters: Colorado is one of 19 states where coronavirus infections are on the rise.

Driving the news: The new "Dial 3.0" public health order means 28 counties are now at Level Green, the lowest mark signifying 35 cases or less per 100,000 residents and sufficient hospital capacity.

The state-level rules that no longer apply include:

  • Mask requirements, which counties can lift after approval from state public health officials.
  • Distancing or capacity limits at restaurants, offices, gyms and retail stores.

The only remaining statewide restrictions cap capacity at bars, indoor events and group sports at 50% or 500 people, whichever is less.

State of play: The new orders also reduced restrictions at other levels and made it easier for counties to reach them.

  • For Level Blue counties, bars can open for the first time.

The big picture: The shift is Polis' first move toward putting counties in control of public health restrictions for good.

  • The new order remains in place until mid-April when the state will retire the "dial" guidance entirely.
  • The statewide mask order stands until April 3, and Polis is considering whether to eliminate it.

Between the lines: Polis never wanted to implement the stay-at-home order that came a year ago Thursday nor the other pandemic restrictions on businesses.

  • Since then, he's moved as quickly as possible to lift the limits and touted his decision to reopen the state's economy before most states.

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