COVID-19 infection rates in the City and County of Denver have roughly doubled since July, and as a result, Mayor Hancock announced that the City and County would move to Level 3 restrictions effective October 28, 2020. Under the Safer at Home Level 3 regulations, the following restrictions apply to businesses in Denver County:
- Restaurants may operate at 25% of the posted occupancy-limit indoors not to exceed 50 people excluding staff, whichever is less, per room. This is down from 50% capacity.
- Non-critical manufacturing and offices decrease from 50% to 25% capacity.
- Retail decreases from 50% to 25% capacity.
- Places of worship and life rites may operate at 25% capacity or 50 people.
- Personal services move to 25% from 50% capacity.
- Indoor events may operate at 50% capacity or 25 people, whichever is fewer.
Denver will be able to move back to Level 2 if its new cases, positivity rate, and hospitalizations meet the Level 2 criteria for two weeks; however, the city's public health director recently warned that if trends continue, Denver could face another stay-at-home order. Mayor Hancock said that he assumes the Level 3 restrictions will remain in place for at least a month, and possibly longer.
What Should Denver Businesses Do?
The first step is to evaluate whether your business falls in one of the restricted categories, and immediately limit operations to ensure compliance. Consider reexamining existing COVID-19 policies and plans to ensure that they are adequately protective, and line up with current regulatory guidance (e.g., the new CDC definition of close contacts, discussed in more detail here). The move to a more restrictive Level underscores the state and local focus on limiting exposures, so having adequate protections in place is increasingly important.
In addition, the Colorado Department of Health has issued guidance detailing how businesses should operate during this pandemic, so to the extent that any businesses are revising their operations in response to the Level 3 order, they should also consult the guidelines to ensure that they are compliant.
The move to Level 3 for the City and County of Denver has immediate repercussions for businesses in the impacted industries, and is a signal that similar restrictions may be forthcoming in other areas of Colorado that experience similar increases in case counts.