Pitkin County Board of Health to look at options for coming out of stay-at-home order
Pitkin County residents curious about what next month might look like under less-restrictive coronavirus rules during the pandemic should tune in Thursday afternoon to the normally below-the-radar county Board of Health meeting.
“When was the last time anyone wanted to listen in on a Board of Health meeting?” Bill Linn, a spokesman for the team managing Aspen and Pitkin County’s response to the outbreak, said Wednesday. “But all of a sudden it’s very important to our lives.”
The meeting — set to begin at 1 p.m. and available for viewing live at pitkincounty.com and on GrassRoots TV — will provide information about the first level of restrictions that could be loosened after the current stay-at-home public heath order expires April 30, he said.
According to the meeting agenda, those lesser restrictions could include retail stores, offices, golf courses, construction sites and bicycle shops. It apparently would not include restaurants, bars, gyms and hair salons or barbershops, among other businesses and services, which are not included in the initial wave of restrictions to be eased.
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“(Those businesses) are not on the first level of consideration of less restrictive orders yet,” Linn said.
Exactly when those businesses not included in Thursday’s meeting — especially the bars and restaurant so key to Aspen’s economy — will be allowed to open again will depend on certain milestones in the course of the virus, he said. Public health officials will talk about those milestones during the course of Thursday’s meeting, Linn said.
Mostly, however, the meeting will talk about businesses and services that might benefit from the first wave of lesser virus-related restrictions.
“This meeting in particular will have some real world impacts for all of us,” Linn said.
For example, a document titled “Social Distancing Protocol for Businesses” included in Thursday’s agenda provides examples of rules that offices and retail businesses will likely have to follow.
It includes directing everyone who can work from home to do so, not allowing anyone with virus symptoms to come to work, conducting symptom checks before employees are allowed to enter work spaces and separating work stations by at least 6 feet. Stores will have to limit the number of people allowed inside at any one time by posting an employee at the door, place buying restrictions on in-demand items, post signs reminding people to remain 6 feet apart and instruct employees to do the same, according to the document.
Customers will not be allowed to serve themselves any food items, bulk food bins will be off-limits, and contactless or frequently sanitized payment systems must be provided along with curbside pickup or dropoff where possible, the document states. Surfaces that customers touch — like shopping carts and payment portals and styluses — must be regularly sanitized, store employees must wear cloth masks and sanitizer must be provided.
As for construction sites, the agenda includes guidance in documents from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, a plan worked out by Pitkin County and the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, and a back-to-work strategy from Gould Construction. The documents are heavy on details — the Pitkin County/ACRA plan alone is five pages long — though they make clear that construction sites can open again in the near future.
The fact that golf courses are included in the first wave of restriction easing will no doubt be welcomed by many residents tired of being cooped up inside. Thursday’s agenda included a list of rules implemented at Garfield County golf courses as guidance.
Those rules include keeping pro shops and patios closed, no golf cart or push cart rentals, leaving flagsticks in cups, removing bunker rakes, closing driving ranges and putting greens and shutting down water fountains and restrooms on the courses, though public restrooms would still be available. Also, Garfield County restricts play to county residents only, doesn’t allow walk-ons and limits both the number of tee times per day and the amount of time a player can arrive before his or her round to between 15 and 20 minutes, according to the document.
Food and beverage service at golf course is allowed to continue in Garfield County on a takeout basis, though no more than five people can be in the restaurant area and players cannot order food after their round is over, according to the Garfield County rules.
Finally, four local bicycle shops proposed a set of rules for opening that includes contactless drop off and pick up, retail sales either taken over the phone and picked up or on a “one in one out” basis, disinfecting of bicycle touch points like grips and saddles on bike repairs and employees scheduled on a half-time basis to limit internal exposure. That’s according to a document from the owners of Hub of Aspen, Ute City Cycles, Basalt Bike and Ski and Aspen Velo.
The Board of Health agenda also indicates that officials will address landscaping businesses, cleaning and property management services and lodging and short-term rentals past April 30.
Thursday’s meeting is scheduled to take place from 1 to 3:30 p.m.
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