Colorado Drops Mask Mandate and Denver Metro Moves to “Level Clear” Standards on Sunday

Update on June 1 at 3:29 p.m.: Updates have been made to Denver’s public health order including the following:

  • If a county’s hospitals exceed 85% capacity, the State may re-impose restrictions.
  • Masks are required for people age 12 and older who are not fully vaccinated in settings such as hospitals, schools, childcare centers, summer camps, jails, prisons and Colorado Department of Motor Vehicle offices.
  • Large outdoor events – including Empower Field, Coors Field and Red Rocks – no longer need approval from the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE). These venues now have no capacity limits, distancing requirements or other restrictions.
  • Indoor events of up to 1,999 people no longer need approval from either the City or the State. Indoor events of 2,000 or more require approval from DDPHE.
  • Denver is adopting the state’s provision for mask mandates that require face-coverings are still required through September 13 by the federal government on all public transportation networks, airplanes, buses, trains, taxis, Ubers and Lyfts.

           Go here to read the complete and updated mask guidance for Colorado. 

Today marks a watershed moment for Colorado. This afternoon, Governor Jared Polis announced that Colorado will drop its mask mandate for those who have been vaccinated. There are a few exceptions including healthcare settings, schools/childcare (unless the provider or teacher is vaccinated), and, per federal guidelines, airplanes and trains. Some events with over 500 people may also face coverings and you’ll still have to wear your mask, vaccinated or not, if businesses require it. Polis also did not extend the mask order for those unvaccinated and instead, masks are only “suggested” in indoor settings with strangers. At a press conference at 2:30 p.m., Denver Mayor Micheal Hancock said Denver will follow the state’s shift as “closely” as possible, effective by tomorrow.

In that same press conference, Mayor Michael Hancock confirmed that Denver will join neighboring counties by adopting standards similar to “Level Clear,” skipping the state’s “Level Green,” starting this Sunday, May 16. 

“This was something we all agreed on a month ago and thankfully since our vaccination numbers are continuing to go up and people are continuing to get the shot and cases are going down, thankfully, we are able to lift all these restrictions,” said Hancock.

Other Denver Metro areas are moving to “Level Clear” such as Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield and Jefferson. Denver Department of Public Health and Environment confirmed that the city’s public health order will adopt the standards of Level Clear. However, it will be different because there will be no 90-day review like JeffCo and instead “will make adjustments to protective health measures as public health metrics require.” For Denver, the public health order entails the following:

  • There will be no capacity limits in offices, retail businesses, restaurants, personal services or bars. 
  • Restaurants will have no limit on party size.
  • Gyms, recreation centers and pools can continue to operate at full capacity and will no longer have distancing requirements.

The following settings still have some limits and restrictions:

  • Indoor events of more than 500 people must get approval from DDPHE and CDPHE.
  • Outdoor seated and ticketed events in spaces 30,000 square feet or greater must get approval from DDPHE to increase their current capacity allowances.  

*Denver’s Five Star program will be suspended unless restrictions are put back in place. 

In addition to the Mayor’s announcement, major players of Downtown Denver’s arts and cultures scene gathered at the Performing Arts Center to announce a series of new programing to help the city get back to normal.

“What will happen across Denver over the next few months is extraordinary – a coordinated effort to bring people outside and celebrate a Colorado summer, ” said Ginger White Brunetti, deputy director at Denver Arts & Venues.

A series of 100 events and concerts will take place throughout the summer, with a heavy focus on music. These include an outdoor concert series from the Colorado Symphony, a concert series at Sculpture Park and 85 days of free local music taking place at a pop-up park at 16th and Welton and the upper half of 16th Street Mall.

“If you think about it, that’s 85 days of employing local musicians to revive the music industry and give the gift and joy of music back to the people who live here, visit here and work here,” said Tami Door, CEO and president of Downtown Denver Partnership.

This news arrives with the backdrop of improving COVID-19 numbers with case rates, hospitalization and deaths on a downward trend while vaccines continue to rise. However, for most counties, case rates and hospitalizations still hover above last summer’s numbers. But this time, as vaccines enter the equation, a more hopeful policy has taken root.

Editor’s note: This article was updated at 6:29 p.m. on May 14 to include updated information from Denver’s public health order.