Opening moves: Business operations resume, but limits in place

Jeff Kuhr

The State of Colorado has approved a request from Mesa County for a variance from the orders that limited the partial reopening of businesses by sector.

We requested the variance because we believe our community is at a place to begin a broader reopening based on guidelines from the World Health Organization on responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Among those guidelines:

  • Disease transmission is under control.
  • There are sufficient health system and public health capabilities.
  • Outbreak risks in vulnerable settings are minimized.
  • Workplace preventive measures are established.
  • The risk of imported cases is managed.
  • The community is fully engaged in efforts.

The Mesa County Board of Public Health issued Public Health Order 2020-02, Safer at Home Mesa County, detailing guidelines to reopen certain businesses and industries. Safer at Home reflects a gradual transition, and we still ask everyone to stay at home as much as possible.  With a limited number of activities resuming, it’s essential the public and business community adhere to strict physical distancing measures so disease transmission remains under control.

If they choose, restaurants and fitness facilities may operate at 30 percent of capacity while adhering to certain protocols. Retail businesses can phase in public openings, and personal services can resume with best practices. Offices can open at 50 percent of in-person staffing capacity, but businesses are encouraged to allow employees to continue telecommuting when feasible. Guidance specific to each of these sectors can be found at http://health.mesacounty.us.

Places of worship may resume services with 50 people or less in attendance. We still encourage the use of live video streaming so our most vulnerable residents can participate.

We appreciate those of you who took the time to review our Safer at Home draft plan and suggested ways to improve the plan. We took your comments seriously and tried to incorporate them wherever possible. Unfortunately, the state didn’t approve every variance we requested. But we feel like we’re at a good starting point to begin reopening our community.

We’re proud we were among the first counties in the state to receive approval for variances to the statewide Safer at Home plan and look forward to leading by example for a successful reopening.    

Safer at Home Mesa County takes a comprehensive approach and recognizes that like most plans, it will require some adjustments along the way. We also recognize many of you still have questions about how to safely transition from Stay at Home to Safer at Home. Our website offers resources to support local businesses, including toolkits with how-to guidance by industry and answers to frequently asked questions. If you still have questions, call 248-6900 or send an email to info@health.mesacounty.us. We’re here to help and support you as we gradually resume business operations in our community.

For Safer at Home Mesa County to be successful, it’s going to require commitment from businesses, employees and the public. Mask wearing in public spaces by everyone is a critical part of this success. To continue to expand available services and operations in Mesa County, we have to demonstrate we’re limiting the spread of COVID-19.

The determination of whether or not physical distancing and the Safer at Home Mesa County plan work will be keeping positive tests to less than 10 percent of overall tests conducted and staying below the threshold of 30 COVID-19 hospitalizations from any county. We won’t move to the next phase of reopening unless these criteria are met.

We know that everyone wants to resume their routines, so please help our community by wearing masks, limiting activities and following protocols in public places. I know we can do this if we all work together.

Mesa County Public Health values our local businesses and looks forward to a continued partnership in reopening the economy. Thank you for everything you’re doing to keep our community safe.