Douglas County restaurants, houses of worship, gyms and Park Meadows mall can partially reopen after state grants variance

Douglas County restaurants, houses of worship, gyms and the Park Meadows mall have been given the green light to reopen, albeit at limited capacity, after state public health officials granted a variance to the state’s safer-at-home order on Friday.

In a letter to county commissioners, Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, approved Douglas County’s request to reopen and noted several conditions to the variance.

For indoor spaces, there is a 50% occupancy cap and a maximum of 175 people. In addition, no gatherings will be permitted at Park Meadows and instead shoppers are encouraged to move from one store to the next without congregating in the public areas.

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Safer-at-home restrictions could be put back into place if cases spike in the area, Hunsaker Ryan warned.

“If any two of the county’s triggers of a 20% increase in positive cases in 3-day rolling average over a 14-day period, more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people in two weeks, a substantial increase in hospitalizations directly related to COVID-19 over a 2-week period, or the inability of TCHD to contact trace new cases within 24 hours of a known positive test result occurs, then this variance is automatically rescinded.”

The variance was approved, she said, because “Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) has a strong public health surveillance system, sufficient hospital capacity, and appropriate thresholds for rolling back the variance if conditions worsen.”

Gov. Jared Polis has said that he will issue guidance for restaurant reopenings by Memorial Day.

This story is developing, check back for updates. Read the full variance letter below.