Pitkin County Phase 1 reopening: Questions and answers on what to expect Saturday
In preparation for the opening Saturday of retail stores and other businesses in Aspen and Pitkin County, local officials answered online questions Wednesday for two hours from business owners and community residents about exactly how things might work.
Frequently, they didn’t know the answers and made notes to try to find out, with another Q&A session set for Friday morning. Other answers — including setting a possible date for opening restaurants and lodging and whether second-home owners and visitors will continue to have to quarantine for 14 days — may come Thursday afternoon at a meeting of the Pitkin County Board of Health.
On Wednesday, the answers and questions helped provide a better picture of what less restrictive life in the upper Roaring Fork Valley will look like for the next month or so starting Saturday.
“We want to thank everybody for the questions,” said Kara Silbernagel, assistant Pitkin County manager. “You’re helping us to stay informed.”
The following are paraphrased questions and answers from Wednesday’s session, which was hosted by local facilitator Bob Schultz. The answers came from Jordana Sabella of Pitkin County Public Health; Jannette Whitcomb, a city of Aspen environmental health specialist; and Silbernagel.
Q: Does every business and office need to submit a Business Safety Plan to Pitkin County Public Health?
A: Yes. Each plan must be based on the Pitkin County Business Safety Plan Checklist, available on the Pitkin County Public Health website, and must be on file before business begins. The plans do not have to be approved by officials, they merely have to be on file.
Q: What are the business/office occupancy rules?
A: Essentially, businesses can have 50% the number of usual employees and customers, or no more than 10. For example, if a business normally has eight employees, it can have four, which leaves room for a maximum of six customers. The checklist provides detailed information about distance between desks, availability of hand sanitizer and numerous other social distancing, coronavirus-related rules that must be followed depending on the business.
Q: What about dressing rooms and trying on clothes? How about trying on shoes and jewelry?
A: It’s not clear if dressing rooms and trying on shoes will be allowed, as more guidance is necessary from state officials. Returning clothing items, however, is not allowed, which could provide some clue as to the eventual answer. Trying on jewelry is OK, as long as it can be disinfected after.
Q: If other retail stores can open, why can’t golf course pro shops?
A: Officials conceded the validity of this point, and said they will go back to the golf course operating rules and revisit the pro shop prohibition.
Q: Is carpooling allowed?
A: Yes, discouraged but allowed. There are several rules surrounding the practice if people decide to do it, including the requirement that cars be filled to only 50% of maximum capacity, passengers must sit as far apart as possible and windows must remain open. The rules do not apply to people from the same household.
Q: What’s the future of public pools and hot tubs, including shared facilities in HOA complexes?
A: Unclear. They are not allowed to open under the Phase 1 rules beginning Saturday.
Q: What are the rules surrounding real estate?
A: Realtors can show properties under social-distancing guidelines, but cannot hold open houses. In addition, properties can only be shown to area residents or people allowed to be here.
Q: Will the Pitkin County Library open?
A: The facility won’t open during Phase 1, but officials are looking at phasing in curbside borrowing. More information should be coming soon.
Q: Will gyms and recreation centers be allowed to open Saturday? What about personal training and outdoor fitness classes?
A: The multi-colored table showing what would open when, called the “Pitkin County Roadmap to Reopening,” initially listed gyms and rec centers as being allowed to open under group limit (10), social distancing and hygiene requirements on Saturday. That information was wrong. Officials have previously said gyms will likely open around the time when restaurants are allowed, which is probably not for another month, and that still appears to be the plan. However, personal training with up to four clients and one trainer will be allowed starting Saturday. Also, outdoor exercise classes like yoga will be allowed as long as equipment isn’t shared and social distancing is observed.
Q: Are leases for longer than 30 days allowed?
A: Yes. Long-term leases of 31 days or more are OK. Reservations for those leases can be taken now.
Q: Can dentist offices open Saturday?
A: Yes. Office safety plans are required. The state’s Department of Regulatory Agencies has issues numerous rules and regulations for dental offices and other professions it oversees, which are available on the agency’s website.
Q: Will summer camps and playgrounds open Saturday?
A: No. Officials are scheduled to address opening both during the Phase 2 discussions.
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