Malls, recreation facilities and more able to reopen under county variance

State variance provides county certain exemptions from Safer-at-Home order

Paul Albani-Burgio
palbaniburgio@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 6/16/20

Although the crowds were sparse and many shops remained closed along with the food court dining area, June 11 was an important day for Colorado Mills as the Lakewood shopping center was able to …

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Malls, recreation facilities and more able to reopen under county variance

State variance provides county certain exemptions from Safer-at-Home order

Posted

Although the crowds were sparse and many shops remained closed along with the food court dining area, June 11 was an important day for Colorado Mills as the Lakewood shopping center was able to welcome shoppers for the first time in nearly three months.

Colorado Mills was one of several Jefferson County locations that were able to either reopen or expand operations as a result of a variance the county was granted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on May 8, permitting several activities in Jeffco that are not yet permitted by Colorado’s Safer-at-Home order.

In addition to permitting indoor shopping malls in Jeffco to reopen after getting a plan for safety approved by JCPH, the variance also allows gatherings of up to 50% people of up to 50 people in indoor spaces and up to 125 people in outdoor spaces. That applies to facilities like gyms, which were previously only permitted to open at 25% capacity or 50 people per room, and churches.

“This approval will help us responsibly continue the process of re-opening Jefferson County,” said Jefferson County Manager Don Davis said in a release. “We hope that everyone will follow the new guidance to ensure a safe and timely economic recovery.”

In Lakewood, Community Resources Director Kit Newland said the city was going to be making several changes to the availability of city recreation facilities during the week of June 15 in response to the variance.

Those changes include making sports fields once again making sports fields available to kids and adult sports leagues and allowing up to 25 people in the city tennis facility. She said the city will also be increasing the number of people who can participate in outdoor recreation activities it has been organizing to 25.

Newland said that while the variance allows for up to 50 people on fields, the city is sticking with 25 because the amount of staff available to maintain the fields is limited.

The city is also beginning to look into opening other recreational facilities, although Newland said doing so presents several challenges and those talks are in tentative stages.

“Planning for that is very preliminary and the reason is because we have a large majority of our Parks and Recreation staff out on furlough,” said Newland. “And then it also requires putting all the health and safety protocols in place so I can’t give you too much detail on that other then to say later this summer we will have a couple of our recreation facilities open.”

The decision of which particular facilities reopen will rest on determining “who can and can’t come back right away,” Newland said.

The variance also allows graduations to take place if a plan for them is approved by JCPH. However, Jefferson County Public Schools spokeswoman Cameron Bell said there has not yet been any conversation within the district about changing plans for graduations, which are now scheduled to take place in August.

The variance also allows breweries to open in reopen in Jeffco under the same regulations put into place for restaurants. Under the Safer-at-Home order, breweries could only open if they were also serving food on-premises.

However, many breweries in Jeffco adapted to that rule by bringing in food trucks to serve food on their-premises and many are continuing to advertise their food truck offerings on their websites even after the passage of the variance.

Museums and other indoor and outdoor educational experiences can now also reopen at 50% capacity. That includes the Butterfly Pavillion in Westminster, which was set to reopen on June 12 with new procedures in place.

“We’ve designed a brand new experience using timed, small group tours that not only maintains social distance and sanitation, but also provides exclusive access to live animals, invertebrate experts and the inspiration that comes from exploring the diversity of nature’s hidden heroes,” announces a posting on the Butterfly Pavillion’s website.

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