Limited capacity for Pitkin County businesses expires after Thursday |

Limited capacity for Pitkin County businesses expires after Thursday

Masks still required indoors unless businesses meet vaccination rules

Most COVID-19-related requirements in Pitkin County, like limited restaurant capacities, will be lifted starting Friday.

That means many local businesses will be free to adopt guidelines as they see fit, though face masks will continue to be required in indoor public settings and on public transportation for everyone over the age of 2, Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock said Tuesday.

The exception to the indoor public mask rule comes for businesses that require 80% of guests or customers to show proof of vaccination. The other 20% of non-vaccinated guests must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours in order to circumvent the indoor face mask rule.

But all other capacity limits on local businesses will be lifted beginning Friday.

Business safety plans and event safety plans also will no longer be required in Pitkin County beginning Friday. Those plans will be rolled into so-called “toolkits” for businesses and events that want to implement best practices for avoiding COVID-19. Special events that require permits from Pitkin County, the city of Aspen, Snowmass Village or the town of Basalt will need to have event safety plans as part of the permitting process.

The Traveler Responsibility Code and its accompanying affidavit will no longer be required for those who stay in local hotels and lodges, and the 5-Star Business Program will be discontinued.

The only way state-mandated restrictions will be re-implemented in Pitkin County is if local or regional hospitalization capacities begin to be threatened.

Pitkin County has one of the higher vaccination rates in Colorado, with an estimated 74% of residents with one dose and 61% fully vaccinated, Peacock said. That compares with about 50% of Colorado residents who have received one dose of vaccine and 43% of state residents who are fully vaccinated, he said.

Nationally, about 50% of Americans have had one dose of the vaccine, while about 40% are fully vaccinated.

Those higher vaccination numbers in Pitkin County likely have contributed to recent lower case count numbers in the county, Peacock said. Pitkin County’s metrics have remained within Green levels of the state’s COVID-19 Dial, with case counts in the single digits in recent weeks and low positivity rates.

It remains to be seen how those high vaccination numbers will affect the county this summer, when the influx of visitors from places with lower rates arrives, Peacock said.

With only four deaths during the entire pandemic, Pitkin County’s death rate was the lowest “by a large margin” within the 25 healthiest counties in the United States, he said. That is likely because of the restrictive measures put into place here as well as the stepped-up support for those who were most impacted by the virus, Peacock said.

Local public health officials continue to urge residents to get vaccinated, wear a mask in public settings if you’re not vaccinated, stay home if you have COVID-19 symptoms, practice 6 feet of social distancing in public settings and wash hands frequently.

Local vaccination clinics will continue to occur at Community Health Services on a weekly basis, especially for 12- to 15-year-olds who must have the Pfizer vaccine. In addition, smaller pop-up vaccination clinics will happen, including one this week for the lodging industry at the St. Regis Aspen Resort and another for homeless people at the camp at the Brush Creek Park and Ride lot.

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