This summer in Aspen will likely include indoor and outdoor concerts, maskless gatherings, and no state or county restrictions on social distancing in restaurants or elsewhere.
And while it might not be the good old days of 2019 – interior face masks will almost certainly always be needed and the fun could come to an abrupt end if the hospital’s capacity is threatened – it should be a far cry from the Not-so-great COVID-19 summer 2020, Pitkin County Director Jon Peacock said on Monday.
âWe’re talking about moving from requirements to recommendationsâ¦ starting on Memorial Day,â Peacock said. âWe will keep our (COVID-19) Dialogue with our incidence ratesâ¦ and we will always have the colors. But we will not have any restriction related to the dial level (color). “
This broad guideline will underpin recommendations that local public health officials will present to members of the Pitkin County Board of Health on Thursday, who will make the final decision on what next summer will look like.
âWe still recommend a distance of 6 feet, but we don’t require it,â said Peacock. âSo restaurants can take a market call and say, ‘What are our customers looking for here?’ Some people want it.
The same goes for theaters, he said. County public health officials have consulted with representatives from Jazz Aspen, Theater Aspen, Aspen Music School, Belly Up and other venues on how best to accommodate crowds for indoor and outdoor performances , Peacock said.
For example, at outdoor shows like the Snowmass Thursday concerts on Fanny Hill or Jazz Aspen, some proposals include the use of restaurant-style face masks. Participants would wear face masks when entering and moving around the room, but could remove them once settled into groups, Peacock said.
Again, county officials would recommend social distancing in such places, but not require it, he said.
The county public health department will likely continue to require security plans for events this summer. Officials, however, are open to indoor gatherings without masks if organizers find a way to include only those who have been vaccinated or tested negative for the virus within 72 hours, Peacock said.
âPerforming arts groups develop their own guidelines,â he said. “I think people are determined to try to do the right things to keep us from having to go back.”
Rollback measures mandated by the state’s public health department will kick in if COVID-19 patients in local or regional hospitals approach capacity. In that case, the locally imposed restrictions associated with the orange or red level guidelines on the COVID-19 Dial state would be implemented, Peacock said.
Pitkin County and other rural resort counties like Eagle and Summit have collectively decided to follow the restrictions imposed by the state’s COVID-19 Dial until May 27. Whatever changes the local board of health decides to make will take effect on May 28.
Some of those counties, like Pitkin, appear likely to continue to impose indoor mask warrants, while others will likely lift them, Peacock said.
âWe are able to make this transition with vaccines,â he said. âVaccines are always essential. This is our best opportunity to keep summer in summer. “
If the Pitkin County Board of Health adopts the recommendations from local authorities, the local public health department will revert to a more traditional role, said Tracy Trulove, spokesperson for Pitkin County. This means much less enforcement of public health orders and a return to a more educational way of doing business while closely monitoring outbreaks, she said.