Douglas County opts out of Tri-County COVID plans, will go to full capacity on Friday

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HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (KDVR) – Douglas County commissioners unanimously passed a resolution to opt out the Tri County Health Department’s COVID Guidelines. 

At places like Los Dos Potrillos Mexican restaurant in Highlands Ranch, less stringent COVID regulations are good news. 

“I think it’s going to be a great opportunity. Now we have an opportunity to open at a bigger capacity while maintaining the priority of our staff and guests 100%,” said Los Dos Potrillos Director of Business Development Daniel Ramirez. 

The Tri-County public health order requires businesses to operate under level blue restrictions.   

But opting out eliminates all capacity restrictions. 

Starting Friday, Douglas County restaurants will be allowed to operate at 100% capacity. 

The new regulations would also allow businesses and individuals to make decisions about what restrictions they want to follow.   

State mask orders and regulations on large gatherings would still be in effect.

“I want to have the courage for Douglas County to be the first in the state to say this pandemic is over, said Douglas County District 1 Commissioner Abe Laydon.

Commissioners cited what they describe as low infection rates, ample hospital capacity, and no deaths since Feb. 15. (Editor’s note: The Tri-County Health Department PIO reached out to FOX31 News after this story was published to correct the commissioners’ assertion that there have been no recent deaths. There have in fact been 11 COVID-19 deaths in Douglas County since Feb. 15.)

But not everyone agrees the rules should be eased.

“I don’t like these masks. However, we are not back to normal,” said Gary Vavra. 

Others against the resolution  said the commissioners’ decision was based on data filled with contradictions. 

Back at Los Dos Potrillos, there’s cautious optimism. 

“I think we’re excited because it’s something that we’ve been waiting for a long time to happen,” said Ramirez. 

DougCo commissioners committed to monitoring data that could spur the county to change restrictions once again if needed.

Here’s a statement from the Tri County Health Department: 

“Per the Policy of the Tri-County Health Department Board of Health, each of our Boards of County Commissioners is allowed to opt out of a county-wide public health order.

We believe that the Public Health Order we have announced is appropriate for all three counties given the recent rates of increase in cases all three counties have experienced and the possibility that increased spread of variant strains could reverse some of our recent progress despite our favorable trends in vaccination.

However, support of local officials is important for the success of any public health order and we respect their prerogative to opt out of ours if they so choose.”

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