On Thursday, Gov. Jared Polis announced the end of Colorado’s health emergency related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Tuesday, some 50,000-plus gathered at Coors Field for major league baseball’s All-Star Game.
That said, acting as the Chaffee County Board of Health, county commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday, with Greg Felt, Keith Baker and Rusty Granzella voting in favor to continue through Aug. 31, the county’s current maximum of 5,000 at outdoor events.
Commissioners also recently extended the county’s emergency declaration through Sept. 30.
On Friday, predictably, Live Nation, producers of the Seven Peaks Music Festival, announced cancellation of the Labor Day weekend event in Buena Vista, citing capacity restrictions being imposed by the county.
Live Nation officials said passes purchased for Seven Peaks will be fully refunded and that planning would start for 2022 – to be held at a new location.
County officials said they were surprised by the governor’s Thursday announcement, indicating they did not anticipate the decision.
Whether that knowledge would have made a difference in their Wednesday decision continuing capacity limits to 5,000 commissioners did not say.
Nor is it clear if Live Nation would have gone ahead with Seven Peaks this September if participants were limited to 10,545, as suggested by Granzella.
We understand commissioners Felt and Baker’s concern over the virus. The pandemic is not over. Far from it.
In fact, the county has seen its first case of the more contagious and severe Delta variant. Many organizations and business – including The Mail and Arkansas Valley Publishing – have and/or are dealing with infections.
But if Denver can host the All-Star Game with 50,000 fans, and if all restrictions have been lifted from professional sports venues for the Rockies, Broncos and earlier for the Nuggets and Avalanche, why the limit for the music festival, an outdoor event?
Commissioners might have been angry over Live Nation’s Seven Peaks pre-sales, which reportedly were in excess of 6,000, sales which preceded county approval. That anger came through in an earlier meeting related to the festival. In his Thursday announcement ending the pandemic emergency in the state, the governor said it’s time to focus on building back a stronger Colorado.
In his county vote on Wednesday, Mr. Granzella noted that, according to state officials, some 70 percent of Coloradans have received at least one shot of the coronavirus vaccine.
With his announcement, Gov. Polis appears to be saying that while the pandemic is not over, the state has made sufficient progress to lift the pandemic emergency declaration, that it’s time to return to some semblance of normality.
The county does have the option to continue its emergency declaration, and obviously exercised their authority last week. And at this point, no one knows the direction the virus will take in coming weeks or months, whether the commissioners’ caution is justified.
But if Denver can host 50,000-plus at an outdoor event, why continue the county limit at 5,000?