New Pitkin County order: Church can begin Friday, travel OK now

Associate Pastor Charla Belinski sits in the back of the Snowmass Chapel while Senior Pastor Robert de Wetter gives sermon during a 9 a.m. live-streamed Palm Sunday service on Sunday, April 5, 2020. According to Associate Pastor Belinski, the chapel has always live-streamed their services, but before the stay-at-home order there were usually under 20 people watching.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

Houses of worship in Pitkin County will be allowed to open Friday at 50% capacity, while non-professionally managed short-term rentals can begin June 22, public health authorities announced Thursday.

In addition, the county eased restrictions on travel for recreation beginning immediately, and will no longer require that such activities be limited to a person’s local community. Guided services can also begin now with group sizes capped at 10 and filed business safety plans, according to a news release Thursday morning.

As previously planned, gyms, outdoor pools, outdoor developed hot springs, recreation centers, organized sports leagues can begin June 8, according to the release detailing amendments to Pitkin County’s existing public health order.

Finally, public and private gatherings of as many as 50 people can begin being held June 15. Those gatherings requiring a government permit must have an approved COVID safety plan with “event-specific guidance,” the new order states.

“Informal gatherings of up to 50 people must follow the 5 Commitments to Containment and informal gathering guidelines,” according to Thursday’s order. “For events requiring staff, the 50 person gathering limits only apply to attendees.”

The five commitments include observing good hygiene and social distancing protocols and getting tested at Aspen Valley Hospital immediately upon experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and isolating in the event of a positive test.

Ski areas can begin opening for skiing or summer activities upon approval of a COVID-19 business safety plan. Public health officials are set to conduct a review of Aspen Skiing Co.’s summer plans Friday, a public health spokeswoman said Thursday.

Houses of worship can begin holding services Friday with 50% of capacity, not to exceed 50 people. However, the new order encourages churches, synagogues and mosques to use electronic platforms to conduct services.

Short-term rental rules — which have previously been limited to complexes and properties with on-site management — will change June 22.

“Private rental by owners who are not licensed or of properties not managed by a professional property manager are permitted as of June 22,” the new order states.

Owners must file a COVID safety plan and adhere to other requirements applicable to facilities with shared bathrooms, kitchens and other communal areas like mountain huts and hostels.

Finally, summer recreation in Colorado and beyond is now officially approved for Pitkin County residents, though that depends on other communities, as well.

“Recreational travel is recommended but not required to be limited within an individual’s local community,” the new order states. “If recreational travel is taken outside an individual’s local community, it is the responsibility of each person who is traveling to familiarize themselves with the host community regulations and to follow those regulations while visiting and recreating.”

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