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The original item was published from 5/24/2020 4:07:22 PM to 7/11/2020 12:00:01 AM.

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Pitkin County Press Releases

Posted on: May 24, 2020

[ARCHIVED] State Grants Pitkin County Variance to Governor’s Safer at Home Order



Steve Child - Pitkin County Commissioner - Chair - 970-948-3008

Jon Peacock - County Manager - 970-471-8550

Karen Koenemann - Public Health Director - 970-319-8634

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) today granted Pitkin County a variance to the Governor’s Safer at Home Executive Order. The Pitkin County Commissioners had applied for the variance to be able to follow the Pitkin County Roadmap to Reopening, based on local data about the spread and impacts of COVID-19.  The variance will allow Pitkin County to implement Phase 2 of the Roadmap.  If Pitkin County exceeds 18 new cases in one week, excluding outbreak-associated cases in a senior care center, the variance will be rescinded.  

“We are happy that we can start reopening portions of our tourist based economy,” said Steve Child, Chair of the Pitkin County Board of Commissioners. “In order to be successful with the reopenings, we really need our community and visitors to remain vigilant about preventing the spread of COVID-19 and adhere to the Five Commitments of Containment: maintaining 6 feet of social distance; washing hands; wearing face coverings in public places; staying home when sick; and getting tested immediately when symptomatic,” Child said. 

While most of the County’s variance request, including the opening of restaurants in a limited way, was approved, CDPHE stopped short of approving the opening of bars, concert halls and music venues. 

In granting the variance, Jill Husaker Ryan, CDPHE Executive Director concluded that  “Pitkin County’s variance application describes a strong public health system in Pitkin County, with effective disease investigation and surveillance, and partnership with Aspen Valley Hospital, which has the capacity to provide care to ill individuals.”

The County has had 57 cases to date, with just 2 of those cases occurring in the last two weeks - a two week incidence of 11 per 100,000

Pitkin County pursued a broad variance request to give flexibility in implementing its Roadmap to Reopening, and not all activities authorized will be reintroduced right away.  Pursuant to the variance approval Pitkin County’s Public Health Order will be amended effective May 27th to allow the following:

  • Visitors, lodging will be allowed to open at 50% daily capacity on the 27th, with a COVID-19 safety plan to include sector specific guidance.

  • Restaurants will be allowed to open on May 27th, under the County’s restaurant guidelines with at least one exception: that indoor seating capacity is limited by physical distancing requirements and 50% of facility capacity (whichever is more restrictive).  Our variance had requested physical distancing requirements, but not a percentage of capacity.  The 50% seating capacity only applies to indoor seating and not to outdoor seating which must meet physical distancing requirements.  

  • Groups/Event Size Limits:  A maximum group/event size of 50 was approved with a safety plan submission.  Gatherings over 10 people must be a County or Municipality permitted event, with a COVID-19 safety plan.  Informal gatherings (house parties, etc.) will remain limited to 10 or under.  Again, there is a preference for outdoor events, and a limit of 50% of facility capacity for indoor events/gatherings.

Pitkin County’s intent in applying for a broad variance was to reintroduce lodging, dine-in service for restaurants and permitted events up to a maximum of 50 people, pending a COVID-19 safety plan.  

Pitkin County has convened task forces for lodging, restaurant, events and outdoor recreation. Additional sector task forces will include arts and theater, faith-based/places of worship, indoor recreation/gyms and transportation (air/bus/etc). More information from CDPHE about summer camps and childcare is expected to be announced on Monday the 25th. 

“While variances were also granted for places of worship, movie theaters, transportation, outdoor recreation and gyms, sector-specific guidelines need to be developed in collaboration with private sector task forces and the medical/health community, and approved before these activities are incrementally reintroduced during Phase 2 of Pitkin’s Roadmap to Reopening,” said Karen Koenemann, Public Health Director. At this time, Phase 1 guidance for non-medical face coverings will remain in place during Phase 2.

More information about Pitkin County’s COVID-19 response and recovery, including details of the approved variance, the Five Commitments to Containment, and Pitkin County’s Safer at Home order are available online at

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