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El Paso County tighter restrictions start; one step away from no variance allowance

Published: Nov. 5, 2020 at 9:01 AM MST
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - El Paso County gyms, restaurants, and churches are allowed to be open, but they’ve had tighter capacity requirements set by the state as of 5 p.m. Wednesday. State leaders say, it could be just days before hospitals start running out of patient beds as COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise.

KEY CHANGES:

- Gyms will now operate at 25% capacity or 50 people, compared to 75 people.

- Restaurants will now be able to only have a maximum of 50 people or up to 100 people if they are seated 6 feet apart.

- Offices and Retail Stores will be required to operate at 50% capacity.

- Bars are to remain closed unless food is served from a retail food licensee with tables spaced at least 6 feet apart.

Experts hope tighter restrictions would stop the spread from getting worse, saying “The more that we engage in those preventive measures, the more that we maintain the chance that we’re going to stay where we are,” said Dr. Robin Johnson, El Paso County Public Health Medical Director.

It is unclear how long these restrictions will last, but COVID-19 case numbers is what determines where a county is placed on the state’s restriction phases dial.

El Paso County tighter restrictions start; one step away from no variance allowance
El Paso County tighter restrictions start; one step away from no variance allowance(kktv)

The dial’s 5 sections bare tighter restrictions increasingly. with the stay at home phase requiring almost all businesses to close except grocery stores and other essential places.

“We really need to think more seriously at a personal level about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, before we get to that point, that we don’t have a choice about shutting down,” Dr. Johnson added.

If El Paso county moves into the orange or red dial sections, it would loose the option for variances. Variances are ‘exceptions to the rule’, per se, that health officials can grant if they decide it makes sense for specific place or event to have higher capacity than the rules allow. Variances have allowed Colorado Springs restaurants to seat more guests than would be allowed in other areas of the state at times during the pandemic.

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