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DENVER (KDVR) — The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is proposing changes to the state’s COVID dial that will go into effect on March 25. These changes put some counties into the lowest restriction categories and loosen capacity restrictions for others.

The new rules reflect progress. Eighty percent of Colorado’s 70+ population is now vaccinated within the statewide 2.2 million Coloradans who have received one or two doses, and the state claims its concern for protecting hospitals is waning.

The proposed update would make it easier for counties to move into Level Green on the state’s COVID dial, the least restrictive level, and remove some of its restrictions.

The order also relaxes restrictions for bars, retail establishments, offices, and non-critical manufacturing facilities in Level Blue, including allowing bars to reopen at 25% capacity and removing all restrictions for outdoor events.

This bumps three counties into the new Level Green, and puts Mesa County within an inch away.

For Pastor Ken Brown, the announcement feels like the beginning of the end.

“It was a happy announcement to hear that they were adjusting the metrics because it helps us have confidence that people are getting vaccinated, and people have a higher degree of confidence when they are out in public,” said Brown, pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Denver.

Brown’s church can hold over a thousand people but currently keeps capacity at 175. He hopes that soon, that will change.

“I feel ready, we are taking necessary precautions to protect people,” said Brown. “Spiritually I believe it’s good for your emotions as well as your body to interact with other people.”

Pastor Brown’s excitement is only days away from being realized.

If its COVID metrics keep improving, the City and County of Denver is only days away from dropping to Level Blue from Level Yellow.

If hospitalizations keep stable or decrease for another two days, it’s hospital requirements will meet Level Blue. If its one-week incidence rate drops another three points, that will drop to Level Blue as well, leaving the state full authority to go down a level.

Pastor Brown will be able to hold another 50 people in his services.

Capacity restrictions loosen under the new Level Blue, as well. Gyms will allow 50% capacity, or 150 people and retailers can allow 75% capacity. Indoor events like church services will allow 50% capacity or 225 people, which is 50 more than the previous dial. For businesses with a variance, those capacity restrictions ease even further.

Coloradans can review the proposed changes to Dial 3.0. Feedback was accepted until noon on Monday. CDPHE will update the draft based on stakeholder feedback. The final guidelines will become available on Tuesday, March 23, and the new dial will go into effect on Wednesday, March 24.
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