Polis Has Some Good News: Colorado Bars Can Reopen, Indoor Events Will Be Allowed

John Daley/CPR News
Gov. Jared Polis speaks from the carriage house at the Governor’s Residence at Boettcher Mansion, June 15, 2020.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said the state will allow the reopening of bars and the resumption of indoor events by the end of the week. And communities that can show they have the virus under control can soon open even further.

Coloradans’ responsible choices to wear masks and practice social distancing made that possible, he said.

“That’s why we are here with good news, not bad news,” Polis said in a news conference Monday.

By week's end, bars will be able to reopen at 25 percent capacity or 50 people indoors. Overnight camps of up to 25 kids outdoors and 10 kids indoors will also be allowed, as well as cosmetic services like facials, shaving and lip waxing. Indoor gatherings of up to 100 people and outdoor events of up to 175 can happen again too, as long as they observe social distancing guidelines.

The guidelines (summer camps, indoor events, and outdoor events) are open to public comment now and will be finalized by the end of this week. Sticking to the guidelines will be important to prevent a second wave and to stay under hospital capacity, Polis said.

"We are trying to get back to at least some way to do all the normal things we do. Everybody knows, if we go back to how we did them in January, the virus will take off immediately again,” Polis said, referencing an uptick of cases in neighboring states Utah and Arizona. “In fact, we are only just a few steps ahead of this virus.”

The state, which has been in the “safer at home” phase since late April, will also soon move into the even looser “protect our neighbors” phase, Polis said. Much larger outdoor events of up to 500 people would be allowed under that, with proper precautions.

The state will look at case trends, health care capacity, contact tracing and other factors before allowing communities to move into that new phase. Polis said he expected the first counties would be approved in early July.

"Strong, local public health and health care systems are the key to successfully reopening our economy," Polis said.

As of Monday, Colorado reported 29,299 positive coronavirus cases and 1,373 deaths attributed to COVID-19.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story erroneously said the state was moving into the "protect our neighbors" phase of its coronavirus response by the end of the week. That won't happen until July, the governor said.