By Mary Jo Coulehan
Pagosa Springs Area
Chamber of Commerce
While COVID-19 case numbers continue to occur, the case positivity numbers in our region and the state are declining. More people are getting vaccinated, again with numbers in our region exceeding state levels.
All of this positive news has prompted the state to set forth new guidelines for businesses and activities in the form of the new COVID Dial 3.0.
Pagosa has experienced a very busy 2020 with lodging and sales tax numbers exceeding prior years, even in a “reported down economy.” Even with restrictions, our businesses, especially restaurants, have had very busy numbers, and combined with staffing challenges, are running ragged.
Pagosa is poised to slow down after the March spring break rush, giving our businesses time to catch their breath and plan for the upcoming anticipated busy summer. What does that look like? Currently, Pagosa Springs falls into the color code level blue, which is one of the least-restrictive colors on the dial. Not much will change from the guidelines that we have been working under; however, there are changes to larger events, indoor events and some businesses.
As a designated small community (under 30,000), Pagosa must continue to experience a positivity rate of less than 5 percent during a seven-day consecutive period with a seven-day consecutive incidence rate of less than 35/100,000 people and stable or declining metrics in new confirmed COVID hospitalizations to remain in the current color level. Due to the declining COVID cases, many of our restaurants did not apply for 5 Star status, which allows the business to operate at reduced color level guidelines. Already being in blue, these businesses cannot operate in green status, but must continue to operate in blue.
The major changes as mentioned are for events. This is good news to many nonprofit organizations planning summer events, bars or restaurants looking to get back to live music programs and places of worship. Operating in blue level, indoor seated events can expand to 225 or 50 percent capacity, up from 175 seated. Outdoor events now do not have a capacity limit, unless Archuleta County chooses to impose one. Restaurants can now operate at 100 percent capacity still using 6-foot distancing between parties. Gyms and fitness centers can also operate at no limited number of attendees; however, 6-foot distancing should still be in effect between attendees.
For those organizations looking to increase their indoor seated capacity, they must obtain 5 Star certification. The best way to do this is to contact Archuleta County’s economic recovery coordinator, Robert Clark. Clark will be able to walk you through the process, certification and inspection of your facility and/or event.
This certification would allow indoor seated or unseated events to increase to 500 people. Clark can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 264-2360.
All this having been said, the new Dial 3.0 may only be in effect until mid-April. At that time, we still don’t know what the status will be. Will the dial be completely eliminated? If cases take a significant rise throughout the state, will restrictions stay the same or be more heavily imposed? We wait to hear.
Here is what is known, however. Stay safe and continue to execute all the health protocols that should be in place. Wash your hands frequently. Continue to disinfect door handles, desks, common contact areas and have hand sanitizer available for the public. Mask up when in public areas. Get tested should you feel symptoms or feel that you’ve been exposed. Vaccines are available.