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Governor Jared Polis extended the Safer at Home and in the Vast, Great Outdoors Executive Order Tuesday and provided an update on Colorado’s next steps during the COVID-19 pandemic, introducing more details on the Protect Our Neighbors framework.

“Protect Our Neighbors will allow Colorado to respond more swiftly and effectively at the community level in the event of another surge of cases. We live in a diverse state with cities, booming suburbs, small resort towns, and rural areas with plenty of wide-open spaces. Each community is having their own unique experience with this virus. Going forward, we want to increase our ability to tackle outbreaks at a community level and only issue statewide orders when absolutely necessary,” said Gov. Polis. “We are making some much-needed investments in our local public health agencies, so they can contain and quell an outbreak before it gets out of control. The fate of Colorado in both virus suppression and economic recovery is largely in the hands of Coloradans. If we continue taking the critical steps of staying at home, wearing masks when leaving the house and following social distancing practices, then we will get through this together.”

Gov. Polis announced the closure of bars. Bars that have taken steps to open as restaurants may continue to operate in-person service, so long as they have patrons seated with their own party only in set seating, spaced 6-feet apart, and with no mingling.

Bars are permitted to sell alcoholic beverages to-go for takeout or delivery consumption if the alcoholic beverages are sold with food. All of the guidelines previously in place around social distancing still apply.

Bars may still operate if open under a county variance pursuant to the terms of that county variance.

The governor did not announce any additional relaxing of restrictions today, but described the new phase: Protect Our Neighbors that will give local communities more freedom to provide economic opportunity while ensuring that they have the necessary public health capacity. The introduction of the new phase means that different parts of the state could be at different phases of reopening, based on local conditions and capabilities.

“Each day, we make progress to build the capacity of our public health system -- from ramping up statewide testing sites to onboarding new case investigators and contact tracers systemwide, to identifying creative ways to aggressively acquire PPE. I am proud of the team at CDPHE who have stood strong during this very difficult time, and I’m grateful for our local public health partners who are leading the response against COVID in their communities,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of the Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment. “It is important that Coloradans don’t let up now, and this new phase - Protect Our Neighbors - isn’t just words. It means we all accept personal responsibility for the things we can do every day to keep ourselves and others healthy.”

Moving forward, communities that can demonstrate strong public health and health care systems, paired with low virus levels, can take on more control over their reopening plans. In order to reopen to this greater extent, communities must have:

Low virus prevalence;

Health care capacity to handle a surge; and

Strong public health capacity to contain outbreaks and surges locally, including the ability to test, track, and trace.

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