What You Need to Know About Denver’s Change to “Blue” Status Despite Rising Cases

As vaccines roll out, restrictions across the state are starting to loosen. For Denver, that means a new spot on the Colorado COVID-19 dial. The Mile High City is now listed as “Level Blue,” and goes into effect Friday, April 16 for the next 30 days. Additionally, the face-covering order has been updated effectively as of yesterday for the next 30 days. Below is what you need to know about the new status.

Why Now?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Back in February, Colorado updated its COVID-19 Dial to make it easier for counties to transition into new levels, for better or worse. Dubbed Dial 2.0, it shifted metrics for each level and updated the observed data period from 14 days to seven days. However, Denver doesn’t currently qualify for this new Blue level according to its recent metrics. Instead, the city is able to adopt these new measures on Friday due to the dial becoming advisory instead of mandatory. In order to qualify for Blue, the city needs to have no more than 100 cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day average and see a declining or stabilizing hospitalization rate. We currently sit at 236 cases and both cases and hospitalizations are trending upwards. However, the data shows that over half of all people living in Denver have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

“We are seeing more and more [vaccine] supply come our way, even with the unfortunate news of the pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. We are also seeing cases and hospitalizations remain a bit higher than we like. We are definitely in a delicate situation. It’s a balancing act though, it’s between being able to further re-open public life and being able to maintain public health. We can do both and towards that end, we’ll be taking a few important steps,” explained Mayor Michael Hancock in a press conference on Wednesday, April 14.

What’s Changing?

Despite the incongruencies with the Dial’s data, Denver will update much of its corresponding restrictions to Blue. However, the state is maintaining say on some restrictions — such as indoor events of over 500 people.

  • Face masks are no longer required in outdoor settings but children ages three and up will be required to wear masks indoors. 
  • 75 percent capacity at offices 
  • 75 percent capacity for retail businesses 
  • 100 percent capacity for gyms, recreation centers and pools, with six-foot distancing between non-household members 
  • 100 percent capacity for restaurants, with 6-foot distancing between parties and a group size limit of 10 
  • 25 percent capacity for bars that do not serve food, not to exceed 75 people 
  • Alcohol beverage sales at bars/restaurants allowed until 2 a.m. 
  • Indoor unseated events at 50 percent capacity, not to exceed 175 people per room
  • Indoor seated events at 100 percent capacity, with six-foot distancing between groups of up to 10 individuals. Indoor events with over 500 people must consult with the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE)
  • Outdoor seated and unseated events with fewer than 5,000 attendees at 100 percent capacity, with a written mitigation plan that facilitates social distancing between parties.
  • Proposed events with 5,000 or more attendees must consult with DDPHE before the event can occur.

For the Five Star program, restrictions will continue as follows:  

  • Indoor events at 50% capacity not to exceed 500 people
  • Restaurants, gyms, recreation centers, and pools are not afforded extra capacity because they will be allowed to operate at 100% capacity with six-foot distancing.
  • All other certified businesses may allow up to 50 additional people in each setting beyond the limits