When can certified businesses open under level yellow?

Confusion is rampant after recent changes in protocol

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Recent changes to Douglas County’s COVID-19 dial level have left many confused about how the new COVID Best Practices Business Certification Program — commonly known as the county’s 5-Star program — will continue to roll out.

The program, which was approved by the state Dec. 23, was originally outlined by the state to allow businesses that go above and beyond in COVID-19 prevention practices to have looser restrictions than other businesses.

For instance, when the county was in the state’s level red and restaurants were not allowed to have indoor dining, certified restaurants under this program were permitted to operate at level orange on the dial, which grants limited, indoor dining. 

The original framework stated that as the county as a whole moved into less severe levels on the state’s dial, the certified businesses would continue to have loosened restrictions compared to those that were not certified.

However, when Gov. Jared Polis announced via Twitter Dec. 30 that he would be moving all red counties into level orange, certified businesses were not permitted to enter level yellow restrictions, as was designated on the original plan, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Instead, those counties, including Douglas, are now required to reach the appropriate case data to be in level orange for at least seven days in order for businesses to be allowed to move into yellow restrictions.

The appropriate case data means an average of 350 or fewer cases per 100,000 people in the county for seven days, according to an emailed statement from CDPHE. 

As of Jan. 11, this figure, known as incidence rate, was beginning to slowly rise again after a steady decline in late December. There were 464 cases per 100,000 people.

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