5 Star program approved in Routt County, certified businesses can operate at level blue restrictions
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Routt County’s application to qualify for the 5 Star State Certification Program was approved late Wednesday by state health officials, allowing certified businesses to open at level blue on the state’s dial, even though the county is at level yellow.
The move has been in flux since the middle of December when the program was first unveiled, and the county was in level red. The past three months have seen changes to the program at the state level and reluctance from the Routt County Public Health Department to support the program until they felt cases locally were stable.
“It has been a long process, but it will still benefit some businesses,” said Steamboat Springs Chamber CEO Kara Stoller, who co-chairs the local administrative committee setting up the program. “For others, it is not a huge benefit between yellow and blue, but if it helps a few businesses, that is a reason to move forward with it, so I am glad it did come to fruition.”
Since the program has been approved, certified businesses in the county will be able to operate under level blue capacities, which expands the maximum number of people allowed in many settings to 175 but does not increase the capacity above 50%.
This is likely to benefit larger restaurants where 50% of capacity is larger than the 50 persons maximum allowed at level yellow, but smaller restaurants will not see much change as they still need to space out tables. No matter their size, certified restaurants will be able to push last call back an hour to midnight.
Certified businesses have been given an official certification to make patrons aware of the additional steps they are taking to prevent spread of the virus through the program. The county has been eligible for the program since the middle of February but lacked approval from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Even if the county had been approved earlier, businesses would not have been able to operate at level blue until earlier this week, when Colorado officially met its goal of getting 70% of people 70 and older the first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Uncertainty around the program and whether it would ever be realized in the county resulted in some businesses dropping out of the program.
“I know we’ve had some businesses decide that they no longer wanted to participate, so we have also seen some drop,” Stoller said. “At the same time, we expect to see an increase in interest now knowing that the benefits of being able to operate one level less restrictive is official.”
Now that it is approved, the 5 Star program could have a larger impact on the county if things were to take a turn for the worse, and restrictions would need to be increased locally, something Stoller described as an “insurance policy” for some certified businesses that may not see many benefits of the program now.
The program could also have some effect on both indoor and outdoor events as the maximums jumps up to 175 people and 250 people, respectively. Both venues and individual events are eligible to apply for certification, though the process for the latter is still being formulated.
Stoller said this will specifically help wedding, music and other entertainment-focused venues, which have struggled to get events on the books throughout the uncertainty of the pandemic.
“That has been very challenging, as it is with many industries, but challenging to plan because you can’t usually wait until a couple weeks or a week before to say it is go time or we are calling it,” Stoller said.
Catamount Ranch & Club (Lake House)
Dude and Dan’s Bar and Grill
Elevation Dance Studio
Four Points Lodge
The Steamboat Grand
Gondola Pub and Grill
Haymaker Golf Course
Johnny B. Good’s Diner
Moe’s Original BBQ
Mountain Tap Brewery
Old Town Hot Springs
Steamboat Springs Parks & Recreation
Sheraton Steamboat Resort Village
Storm Peak Brewing Co.
Timber & Torch
Vista Verde Guest Ranch
Yoga Center of Steamboat
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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