Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment approved Broomfield’s variance request, meaning the city and county will have, in some instances, less restrictive guidelines in place than the state’s Safer at Home rules.
The decision was announced Monday as the state takes steps to loosen restrictions amid COVID-19.
Broomfield’s variance application included expanding public gatherings up to 50 people with 6 feet of distancing; indoor mall retailers (with no exterior entrance) may operate in accordance with the Flatiron Crossing Plan; libraries, museums, gyms and personal training can open up to 50% building capacity with 6 feet distancing and organized sports up to 50 people.
Deb Federspiel, deputy director of Broomfield Public Health and Environment, said in an email to community members that the variance will remain in effect as long as the Safer at Home order is in effect. That order is set to expire June 30 unless extended. It could also be rescinded if Broomfield cases of COVID-19 rise “significantly,” she said.
Major components impacted by the variance request are public gatherings, indoor malls, libraries and museums, gyms and organized sports.
Gyms, which includes all facilities operating activities such as indoor sports, recreation, fitness and dance can operate following CDPHE gym guidance with the following provision: that occupancy is limited to 50% capacity, as long as the facility can ensure 28 square feet per person. That also comes with a limit of 100 people per confined indoor space, defined as being separated by walls, or 175 outdoors.
Organized sports will be permitted to meet with up to 50 individuals, which includes spectators, coaches and athletes, per outdoor field, according to the new variance.
Federspiel said Broomfield expects the state will update the Safer at Home rules to allow indoor/outdoor events and gatherings for groups larger than 10 across a number of venues that are not currently allowed in the order. This is expected to happen Thursday.
A common thread of Broomfield’s variance requests included maintaining 6-feet distance on all sides; face coverings required for staff, hosts and volunteers (and strongly advised for participants); frequent cleaning and disinfecting; appointment, check-in, or registration system to identify participants; and special consideration, including special hours and higher cleaning frequently for vulnerable populations, according to the city’s Blueprint to Reopening.
Gov. Jared Polis announced Monday the state is moving toward a “Protect Your Neighbor” framework starting in July that will further loosen restrictions, depending on the prevalence of COVID cases at the county level and the county’s ability to contain the spread of the virus, Federspiel said in the email. That includes availability of testing, hospital care and other indicators.
“The state is still taking input and working out details, so we do not have the final framework yet,” she said.
Broomfield provided data and information included in its request that showed the city and county had reported 264 COVID-19 cases total with 18 cases (excluding cases among residents of facilities experiencing outbreaks) in the past two weeks, putting Boomfield in the “medium” variance category, according to a letter from Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of CDPHE to Broomfield Public Health Director Jason Vahling. To learn how the CDPHE defines low, medium and high levels visit the state website.
The application shows testing services are “available and increasing” and that Broomfield relies on surrounding county hospitals to provide necessary services, she said in the letter. Children’s Hospital Colorado and UC Health each provided letters documenting capacity for purposes of Broomfield’s variance application.
If Broomfield observes more than 35 cases in a two-week period (more than 50 cases per 100,000 population), it is required to notify CDPHE and implement a mitigation plan for two weeks to try to restore virus transmission levels to the baseline under which the variance was approved, Ryan said in her letter.
If levels are not restored after two weeks, capacity limits are automatically adjusted to the maximum of the level. If the county starts at the “high” level for the variance, and after the two weeks of mitigation the baseline has not been restored, the variance is rescinded.
CDPHE reserves the right to modify or rescind the variance approval as circumstances warrant, she said in the letter.
As of Tuesday evening, Broomfield reported, to date, 270 positive COVID-19 tests; 37 hospitalizations due to COVID-19; 28 deaths and 3,540 tests conducted, according to the city’s COIVD-19 Data Dashboard.
On March 27, Polis enacted a state-wide Stay at Home order to suppress the virus. Since Colorado recorded its first case of COVID-19 on March 5, more than 1,300 Coloradans have died because of COVID-19 and confirmed that more than 29,400 have been infected with the virus, according to the state COVID-19 website.
The Mamie Doud Eisenhower Public Library will open by appointment on June 24. Register for an appointment through B-REx.com. The library and the Depot Museum will reopen on July 1.
Library hours will be 9 a.m. to 9 .m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Every morning from 9 to 10 a.m. will be reserved for people 60 and older and other vulnerable populations. The library will be closed several times throughout the day for additional cleaning. Visit Broomfield.org/library for cleaning schedule.