Social Distancing COVID-19

El Paso County has until 5 p.m. Nov. 13 to tighten restrictions and move fully to Level Orange: Safer at Home – High Risk, as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge.

This latest order cuts restaurant, office and retail capacity from 50 percent to 25 percent, among other restrictions. There are no new school or higher education restrictions.

Mayor John Suthers and area health experts are urging residents to step up prevention efforts — and help keep the economy open — by following the measures in the Small Acts, Big Impacts campaign.

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment notified the county of the stricter requirements Nov. 11. This comes on the heels of the Nov. 4 move to Level Yellow: Safer at Home – Concern.  

On the state’s dial framework, Safer at Home – High Risk comes in just below Stay At Home, which is the highest restriction.

“Unfortunately, the data is showing that our current level of restriction is not enough to stop the rise in cases and hospitalizations…” Suthers said. 

“This is concerning for our businesses and especially our restaurants. I am hopeful that with the cooperation of our residents, leadership of our health department and commitment by our businesses, that we can reverse the trend of COVID-19 infections quickly and return to a more open economy.” 

As of Nov. 10, El Paso County’s metrics are: 

  •  Two-week incidence: 711.4 (up from 278.6 as of Oct. 29)

  • Two-week test positivity rate: 13.26 percent (up from 6.94 percent as of Oct. 29) 

  • Hospitalizations: Increasing (admissions had been stable as of Oct. 29)

The move to Level Orange includes these restrictions: 

  • Restaurants: Indoors – 25 percent capacity or up to 50 people; outdoors – 6 feet between parties 

  • Offices: 25 percent capacity 

  • Bars: Closed, unless all patrons are seated at tables spaced at least 6 feet apart and food is served from a retail food licensee for on-premise consumption; 25 percent capacity or up to 50 people per room (or up to 100 with social distance calculator). Dance floors are not permitted. Bars that operate must follow all requirements in Appendix H of Public Health Order 20-36.  

  • Preschool-12 schools: In-person, hybrid, or remote as appropriate 

  • Higher education: In-person, hybrid, or remote as appropriate 

  • Gyms/Fitness: 25 percent capacity up to 25 people indoors, or outdoors in groups less than 10 

  • Group Sports: Virtual, or outdoors in groups less than 10; no indoor sports 

  • Retail: 25 percent capacity 

  • Personal Services: 25 percent capacity up to 25 people per room 

  • Places of Worship: Pursuant to a federal court order, capacity limits do not currently apply to indoor places of worship, though social distancing requirements must still be met; outdoors, 6 feet of social distance must be maintained as well  

  • Indoor Events: Unseated: 25 percent, or up to 50 people (with social distance calculator); seated: 25 percent, or 50 people with 6 feet of distance 

  • Outdoor Events:  Unseated: 25 percent, or up to 75 people (with social distance calculator); seated: 25 percent, or up to 75 people with 6 feet of distance 

“Recent numbers from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus show a high risk of transmittal comes from mask-less conversations with co-workers,” said Dirk Draper, President and CEO, Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC.

“It’s easy to let our guard down around our ‘work families’ given how much time we spend together. We may only intend to pop by the break room or a colleague’s desk for a quick chat, but it turns into a longer conversation. 

“We can all do our part in the business community to bring numbers down by keeping our guard up and following preventative measures in the workplace.”

Gov. Jared Polis already extended the requirement to wear a mask indoors for another 30 days, starting Nov. 9, and in frequent updates has been urging Coloradans to do more to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

Every Safer at Home level limits personal gatherings not otherwise covered by Public Health Order 20-35 Safer at Home Dial to 10 or fewer people from no more than two households.  

During the month of November, CDPHE is asking individuals to interact only with people from their own households. 

“We are urging our community to come together to prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19, by focusing on what they can do right now,” said Susan Wheelan, El Paso County Public Health Director. “Small actions lead to a broad community impact, and the only way we are going to get through these difficult times is working together and everyone doing their part. We greatly appreciate everyone in the community and our many partners who have been doing all they can to slow the spread of COVID-19.” 

Learn more about the Small Acts, Big Impacts campaign at coloradosprings.gov/smallacts.    

El Paso County continues to expand the community mitigation plan to reverse the upward COVID trend. 

Managing Editor

Helen Robinson is a graduate of The University of Queensland, Australia. She worked in print media in Australia, Canada and the U.S. before joining the Business Journal in 2016. She became managing editor in 2019.