Summit County extends safer-at-home order, discusses next phase of reopening |

Summit County extends safer-at-home order, discusses next phase of reopening

Chris Stratton wears a face mask while getting a haircut May 20 at the Frisco Barber Shop in Frisco. On July 1, Summit County’s latest safer-at-home public health order took effect, which requires everyone to wear a mask when in a building open to the public or when outside and a 6-foot distance isn’t possible.
Jason Connolly /

FRISCO — Summit County’s extended safer-at-home public health order went into effect Wednesday, July 1, allowing for buses to hold up to 50% capacity and maintaining the county’s mask requirement.  

Public Health Director Amy Wineland signed the order Friday, June 26. It’s now set to expire July 31. The order continues to follow the lead of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment with minimal exceptions. 

Summit County’s order requires masks or face coverings whenever people are in a building open to the public or outside and a 6-foot distance isn’t possible. The state’s order only “urges” the public to wear face coverings. 

The county’s order also includes more loosened restrictions for transportation providers. Buses had been running at 25% capacity, or up to 10 people, whichever is fewer. Now, they can hold up to 50% capacity. 

Buses also will be required to have windows open so air flow can help prevent the spread of the virus among passengers and drivers. Buses that don’t have operational windows must include an air-circulation system.

The county plans to remain in the safer-at-home phase of reopening for the foreseeable future. At Tuesday’s joint Board of Health and Board of County Commissioners meeting, county officials discussed the protect-our-neighbors phase of reopening. 

Shortly before Tuesday’s meeting, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis released the final framework for the protect-our-neighbors phase, which includes detailed criteria for counties that wish to move into the next phase of reopening. If approved, every type of business could open at 50% capacity or up to 500 people, whichever is fewer.

More information about the process for applying will be available July 6, according to the state’s website.

“This phase is going to look a little bit different than what we have been seeing from the other orders coming out of the state,” Wineland said. “This is something that counties or regions will have to apply and be approved to move into that phase.”

In general, counties will have to do two things to move into the protect-our-neighbors phase. First, they will have to certify their qualification for the phase by proving the county has low transmission levels; the county has a capacity for testing, contact tracing, case investigation and outbreak response; and the hospital is able to meet the needs of all patients. 

Counties then will have to submit a “mitigation and containment plan,” which outlines what they will do if they fall out of line with any of the metrics. The plan also requires counties to include information about how they will promote public compliance, increase mask-wearing in public places and increase flu vaccine numbers, according to the state health department. 

The containment plan would have to be accompanied by letters of support from the board of county commissioners, town mayors, hospital leaders, law enforcement and the county emergency manager, Wineland said.

Counties can either apply on their own or combine with other counties and apply as a region.

Although she hadn’t analyzed all of the numbers at the time of Wednesday’s meeting, Winelend said she’s not comfortable recommending the county apply for the phase just yet. She said the county would need to know the full impact of increasing event sizes to 175, the data for which isn’t yet available.

“Right now, we’re in a pretty good place with our numbers, even though we are seeing an uptick this week a little bit,” she said. “We’re still in a place where we’re waiting to see what’s going to happen here, but it’s really important to understand for everybody that we are not automatically going to be going into this next phase. It really is going to be county by county.”

County Manager Scott Vargo said county officials met Wednesday to develop a plan for the protect-our-neighbors phase. The Board of Health also will discuss the phase in more detail at Thursday’s meeting. 

“Whether we would submit something in two weeks or we would submit something in four weeks, at least we’re talking about how we’ll develop that plan and what it might look like,” Vargo said. “So it’s ready to go when we feel like we’re in a place that it makes sense to make that recommendation.”

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