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KUNC is here to keep you up-to-date on the news about COVID-19 — the disease caused by the novel coronavirus — Colorado's response to its spread in our state and its impact on Coloradans.

33 Colorado Counties Move From Level Red To Orange On Monday. Here's What That Means

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Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
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Gov. Jared Polis announced 33 Colorado counties will be downgraded from Level Red to Level Orange on the COVID-19 risk dial on Monday, Jan. 4.

Many Colorado restaurants will once again be allowed to seat customers indoors starting Monday, following an announcement from Gov. Jared Polis that dozens of counties would be moved from Level Red to Level Orange restrictions on the state’s COVID-19 dial.

The move also increases capacities at local gyms, loosens limits on personal gathering sizes and pushes last call two hours later, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Polis said in Facebook and Twitter posts late Wednesday that he requested the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment move all counties currently in Red to Orange on Jan. 4, citing state data that showed a “sustained decline (in cases) for 13 days, and only 73% of ICU beds statewide in use.”

“Throughout this pandemic, we have had to walk a difficult line between the public health crisis and the economic crisis,” Polis said in his announcement. “I’m excited that we have thus far successfully avoided another lockdown.”

Polis moved many counties into the newly-created Level Red in late November, as cases rose to their highest levels since the pandemic began. By doing so, he sent panic through the business community.

Average weekly cases numbers have since declined, but remain well above levels the state saw last spring.

This week’s change applies to most communities along the Front Range, including Fort Collins, Greeley, Denver, Boulder and Aurora. Parts of the Western Slope and Eastern Plains will also move from Red to Orange, according to a state map of county COVID-19 statuses.

Here’s a breakdown of what changes on Monday:

  • Personal gathering size: In Level Red, CDPHE encourages no personal gatherings between separate households. In Level Orange, that recommendation loosens to “up to 10 people from no more than 2 households.”
  • P-12 Schools: The state’s recommendations for schools changes to favor more in-person learning at all grade levels. In Level Orange, “counties are encouraged to prioritize in-person learning by suspending other extracurricular and recreational activities in order to preserve effective cohorting and minimize disruptions to in-person learning.”
  • Higher education: The recommendations for higher ed also favors more in-person and hybrid learning over remote.
  • Restaurants: Indoor dining is allowed again. Restaurants can seat up to 25% of their capacity indoors, or up to 50 people. Outdoors, tables must be spaced at least six feet apart.
  • Last call: Last call gets pushed from 8 p.m. in Level Red to 10 p.m. in Level Orange.
  • Offices: Remote work is still “strongly encouraged,” if possible. Offices are allowed to increase their capacities from 10% to 25% in Level Orange.
  • Gyms and fitness centers: Capacity limits increase to 25% or up to 25 people indoors. That’s up from just 10% in Level Red.
  • Indoor, unseated events: Indoor events are capped at 25% capacity of the building, or up to 50 people.
  • Indoor, seated events and entertainment: Movie theaters can reopen at 25% capacity. This rule also applies to live theaters.