Lighter COVID restrictions go into effect in Colorado

    BRIEF

    Syringes sit on a table where vaccines are being administered during a two-day COVID-19 vaccination clinic inside the JBS Greeley Beef plant in Greeley on March 5, 2021. (Alex McIntyre/The Greeley Tribune, pool)

    Colorado moves into a new set of lighter COVID-19 restrictions Wednesday.

    The changes both make moving between levels on the state’s “dial” system of restrictions easier for counties and ease the restrictions called for in each level.

    For example, counties starting this week can be eligible for the dial’s blue level, its second-least restrictive, if their one-week COVID incidence rate is between 36 and 100 cases per 100,000 people. Previously counties were eligible for blue if their two-week incidence rate was between 0 and 75 cases per 100,000 people. Restaurants in blue counties can go from 50% indoor capacity to 100%. Bars can now open under blue.

    The “Dial 3.0” COVID metrics take effect March 24, 2021.

    “Because of the commitment of all Coloradans, we are where we are now, able to be less restrictive and provide local communities and their public health agencies more control while still protecting the public’s health,” Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said in a statement. “We’ve enacted the restrictions we need to slow the disease while attempting to limit the ramifications of closing down parts of the state and the impacts that come with that.”

    Other changes that take effect this week:

    • To be eligible for the dial’s green level — also called Protect Our Neighbors, and the dial’s least restrictive level — counties must achieve 35 COVID cases per 100,000 rather than the previous 15.
    • The green level no longer has a certification process, and counties will be eligible simply by achieving the necessary metrics for at least a week.
    • Most restrictions in the green level are eliminated. For example, while previously green imposed capacity limits for indoor dining, non-critical manufacturing, offices, bars, gyms and retail, the new restrictions impose no state regulations in these areas.

    The state posted online a draft plan for what it calls “Dial 3.0,” as well as the related metrics and a detailed chart of restrictions.

    A chart of the capacity restrictions associated with “Dial 3.0,” effective March 24, 2021.