One Colorado ski county will soon face a tighter wave of COVID-19 restrictions, posing yet another obstacle for mountain town restaurants and lodging facilities struggling to stay afloat in the midst of the pandemic.
Pitkin County will soon return to 'severe risk', level red, on Colorado's COVID-19 dial in response to one of the highest incidence rates in the state. The newest order, set to go into effect on Sunday, January 17th at 12:01 AM, includes banning all indoor dining and slashing lodging capacity to 50 percent.
Restaurants across the mountain county are speaking out against the new restrictions.
"A shutdown is complete abuse of power, irresponsible and could lead to consequences that some will never recover from," wrote Jimmy Yeager, co-owner of Jimmy’s Restaurant in Aspen, as a reaction to new restrictions.
County officials were also questioned on how capacity limits would be managed without a reservation system in place for all four ski areas in Aspen including Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass.
While the lifts will continue to spin, on-mountain restaurants will be once again forced to suspend indoor dining.
The rollback was trigged by incident rates skyrocketing in Pitkin County to the 2nd-highest in the state. According to county officials, 1 in 35 residents are currently capable of spreading the virus.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported a total COVID-19 case count for Pitkin County of 1,462 as of Tuesday, January 12, 2021. This count also includes four deaths. To see a full case count listed by county, click here.
Once the incidence rate dips below 700 or has been decreasing for 14 days, the county will be allowed to shift back to "high risk," level orange on the state's dial.
Under red level, restaurants may remain open for takeout and delivery. Outdoor dining is also allowed to continue, but with a one-household per party seating rule and a last call on-site alcohol sales set to 8:00 PM.
Pitkin County will host a community meeting on Thursday, January 14th at 6:00 PM to discuss these new changes and the resources available to local businesses and individuals.
The decision to move to 'red level' status comes on the heels of discussion involving a stricter, 'full shutdown.' The full shutdown was one of three options being discussed by the local board of public health. The other two options where switching to 'red level' restrictions, which was chosen, or moving to 'purple level' restrictions.
Full details to join available at covid19.pitkincounty.com/upcoming-meetings.