Colorado Coronavirus Restrictions Are Loosening Up. Here’s What That Means For You

Hart Van Denburgt/CPR News
Larimer Lounge patrons can use a clear plastic dome tents on Larimer Street in Denver, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020.

New year, new coronavirus restrictions. Well, sort of.

On Dec. 30, 2020, Gov. Jared Polis announced that, due to a downward trend in Colorado's coronavirus cases, all level Red counties can move up on COVID-19 dial, to level Orange, effective Jan. 4, 2021 (that's today).

When a county moves up on the dial, coronavirus rules in that county can loosen up. In other words, it's good news. Here's what all that means — and the difference between the Red and the Orange level.

Colorado's COVID-19 Dial

The Red level on Colorado's COVID-19 dial is "Severe Risk." It's one step away from the most restrictive level — Purple, or "Extreme Risk."

In November, citing reduced hospital capacity and a constant increase in coronavirus cases, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment moved more 31 counties backwards on the COVID-19 dial to level Red.

Under Red, indoor dining was closed (with a last call for alcohol at 8 p.m.), personal services had a 25 percent capacity, gyms and fitness centers were restricted to a 10 percent capacity limit and indoor events were prohibited. Here's the full list of what level Red restrictions include.

Later in the month, Mesa County — a Red level county —piloted a '5-Star Certification' program that allowed qualifying businesses, including restaurants, to operate with looser restrictions. In December, the state legislature encouraged the expansion of that program, and several counties applied to be a part of it. Those that were approved saw some indoor dining reopen.

However, effective Jan. 4, all that is changing — the Colorado counties currently in the Red level will move to the more lenient, Orange level.

These Colorado counties are moving from Red to Orange

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, these 31 counties are moving from Red to Orange:

  1. Adams
  2. Alamosa
  3. Arapahoe
  4. Archuleta
  5. Baca
  6. Bent
  7. Boulder
  8. Broomfield
  9. Clear Creek
  10. Costilla
  11. Crowley
  12. Denver
  13. Douglas
  14. El Paso
  15. Elbert
  16. Garfield
  17. Huerfano
  18. Jefferson
  19. Kiowa
  20. Larimer
  21. Las Animas
  22. Logan
  23. Mesa
  24. Morgan
  25. Otero
  26. Prowers
  27. Pueblo
  28. Routt
  29. Summit
  30. Washington
  31. Weld

What are the loosened coronavirus restrictions in the Orange level?

Restaurants: Indoor dining can resume at a 25 percent capacity, or a maximum of 50 people, with last call at 10 p.m. Bars that do not serve food remain closed. At the Red level, no indoor dining was allowed and last call was at 8 p.m.

Gyms: Gyms and fitness studios can operate at 25 percent capacity. At the Red level, gyms could operate only at 10 percent capacity.

Personal gatherings: No more than 10 people from no more than 2 households. At the Red level, personal gatherings of any size were prohibited.

Schools: In-person learning for K-12 and higher education is suggested. Counties and districts are encouraged to prioritize in-person learning but suspend extracurricular activities. Here's the current in-person learning plan for some of Colorado's largest school districts.

Offices: 25 percent capacity, with remote work encouraged. At the Red level, the capacity limit was 10 percent.

Indoor events and entertainment: 25 percent capacity. At the Red level, all indoor entertainment was closed, except for museums, aquariums and zoos, with strict capacity limits.

Outdoor events and entertainment: 25 percent capacity. At the Red level, the capacity limit was the same, but you were restricted to attending with only members of your household.

What restrictions have not changed?

Retail: Capacity remains limited 50 percent, with curbside pickup and delivery encouraged.

Personal services (like salons): Capacity remains limited to 25 percent.

Health care settings: Capacity remains limited to 25 percent.

Group sports and camps: Capacity remains at 10 percent outdoors, or virtual only.

Outdoor guided services (like ski lessons): Capacity remains at 25 percent.

Do you have a question about the coronavirus restrictions in Colorado? Email us at: [email protected].