Pitkin County eases restrictions Saturday, including retail stores
Saturday marks a new dawn in Pitkin County’s evolving relationship with the COVID-19 pandemic.
For the first time, the public health order is becoming less restrictive after nearly two months of a virtual shut-down of activity in Aspen and Pitkin County when most the population has been told to stay home.
Now, some semblance of normalcy can return as officials have said the infection rate in the county has flattened and the Public Health Department is in a position to control outbreaks of the coronavirus among the current population. If infections get out of hand, they have said they will reinstitute restrictions again.
But while some aspects of life will return to more or less recognizable facsimiles of their pre-virus states, others will not. Those that will remain closed or mostly closed include bars, restaurants (take-out still allowed but not patios), lodging (extremely limited), gyms, playgrounds, summer camps, yoga studios, swimming pools and events larger than 10 people.
However, retail businesses, offices, real estate, child care, barber shops, hair salons, dental offices, personal trainers and personal guides (horseback riding, etc.) will be allowed to open or offer services. All will have limitations placed on them, which come in the form of “Business Safety Plans” that must be filed online with Pitkin County Health, though most will not have to be approved.
For more information on what your business must do to be able to open, go to pitkincounty.com and click on “COVID-19 Information” then click on the “Roadmap to Reopening.”
Much hinges on the safety plans. Every business — retail or office — needs one. Once they’re submitted, the business will receive a sign detailing what customers must do based on the plan that officials hope businesses will post in front windows, said Phyllis Mattice, assistant county manager.
One major difference from the state’s “safer at home” order and Pitkin County’s order that begins Saturday is the travel restriction. The state’s order limits travel to 10 miles around a person’s home.
Local officials, however, decided that was directed at Front Range residents who were being told not to travel to the mountains. Those who live in the rural, mountain environment need not limit ourselves to 10 miles, they said.
Instead, Pitkin County residents should limit travel to the Roaring Fork Valley and off-shoot valleys like the Fryingpan and the Crystal, officials said.
Professional offices like dentists and others regulated by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies have specific rules that must be followed and are available on the agency’s website. Elective medical procedures also can begin Saturday.
With many lingering questions still surrounding the fate of Aspen’s historic Old Powerhouse, City Council decided during Monday’s work session to hold off on providing staff direction on moving the preservation project forward until more information can be presented.