18 Douglas County restaurants resume in-person dining after receiving Five Star program approval

Thirty-three Douglas County businesses, including 18 restaurants, increased their indoor capacity to 25% on Wednesday after receiving state approval under Colorado’s new Five Star State Certification Program.

One indoor events center and 14 gyms and fitness centers also increased capacity after the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment notified the county it had reached 10 days of sustained and declining hospitalization rates due to COVID-19, which was the final hurdle for the county to launch the program.

More than 100 other business have applied for certification under the Five Star program, according to a Douglas County government news release.

Douglas County is the first in the metro area to obtain the Five Star certification. Summit and Larimer counties also have been approved. Arapahoe County announced Wednesday that it had submitted an application to the state health department but would not accept applications from businesses until it had received approval.

“Approval for the variance is contingent upon the County’s COVID-19 numbers continuing the sustained decline they have recently shown,” a county news release said.

Under the Five Star program, Colorado counties can receive approval to set up a program that allows businesses to increase capacity beyond regular public health restrictions, which are established by a color-coded dial. For example, in a county at Level Red, which includes Denver and the rest of the Front Range, restaurants are not allowed to host indoor dining. However, if they meet the more stringent requirements under the Five Star program they can open at 25% capacity. If the county’s COVID-19 threat level drops on the dial, then they would be able to further expand capacity.

The Five Star program was launched Dec. 14, and Summit County was the first to put a program in place, certifying 134 restaurants to open for indoor dining over a weekend. Among the requirements for restaurants is an order to separate tables by 10 feet, register guests for contact tracing and improve indoor ventilation.

Douglas County submitted its application and received approval but could not launch the program until certain COVID-19 benchmarks were met. The county pre-certified some businesses so they could move as soon as approval was granted.

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