DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado’s events industry leaders continue to push for COVID-19 guidelines that they feel will allow their business to operate in sustainable way.
Gov. Jared Polis unveiled new guidelines this week for events such as receptions, concerts and markets. It’s something people like Brynn Swanson with the Colorado Event Alliance have been waiting on for some time.
“There was a lot of excitement that we would be able to make our businesses at least keep their doors open,” said Swanson.
Swanson has said previously she felt the state did not give the same attention to the events industry as it did to businesses like restaurants and bars. She says their group of events industry experts had productive dialogue with the governor’s office about ways to reopen their sector safely.
According to public health orders, events that can fully follow restaurant guidelines for the entire event may operate as a restaurant and follow those guidelines and capacity restrictions. That means venues must provide food and beverages from licensed vendors and capacity must be limited to no more than 50 people or 50% maximum capacity, whichever results in fewer people.
Venues that cannot meet those requirements or choose not to can operate using the state’s new social distancing calculator for indoor and outdoor events.
The calculator uses a formula to determine recommended venue capacity based on square footage. Swanson says the calculator was not mentioned in their discussions with the governor’s office.
“It was a surprise and it makes our businesses not sustainable,” said Swanson.
The social distancing calculator uses a 12-foot grid distribution to provide a capacity recommendation that the state says ensures people remain six feet apart in all situations, even in passing. It does not specify how venues should handle parties of multiple people or members of the same household.
“These people aren’t individuals, they’re coming together. What does that look like? If you’re there with your fiance, you have to stay 12 feet from them?” said Swanson.
Jeremy Bronson, owner of Occasions Catering and fellow member of the Colorado Event Alliance worries the latest guidelines are too strict, and will cause irresponsible venues and vendors to violate the orders in order to contribute to operate.
“People want to gather, they are gathering. What’s happening now is rather than having reasonable rules to follow, they’re just going places where people don’t make them follow rules. That is going to create more risk for Colorado than having a reasonable set of rules in place,” said Bronson.
Swanson expects more counties will apply for variances to safely hold events at larger capacities than what is allowed under state guidelines.