The state of Colorado has approved a variance request from another Colorado county.

Garfield County is the latest to receive approval from the state for at least a partial relaxation of shutdown restrictions. According to the Garfield County Board of Commissioners, the approval means restaurants, fitness facilities, are able to open immediately at half-capacity. Businesses that want to take advantage of the new guidelines will have to submit a business social distancing form to Garfield County Public Health.

Restaurants will be allowed to limit customers to a maximum of 50% normal seating capacity. Customers are not allowed to wait in the lobby or in lines outside the door. Instead, a reservation system is to be implemented in which customers are notified via text or call when their table is ready.

Additional restrictions for restaurants include:

* Customers required to wear face coverings
* Group parties limited to 6 members of a single household
* Bars are to remain closed
* Tables spaced at 6-foot distances
* No self-service for food or drinks is allowed.

Churches are encouraged to continue online or drive up services as much as possible, but are allowed to conduct on-site services with restrictions in place.

* No more than 50% seating occupancy and at least 6-feet of space between individuals or family groups.
*  No waiting in the lobby area, or mingling before, during, or after services.
* Masks should be worn by all guests when at all possible
* Perform environmental cleaning and disinfection of bathrooms and high-touch areas every 2 hours.

Requirements for gyms and fitness facilities are similar to other places of business such as limiting customers to 50% of fire/building capacity, spreading out of people in the facility, equipment disinfected by an employee after every use, and the requirement of face coverings "when physically possible."

Additionally, local recreational facilities in Garfield County may open under specific guidelines with groups kept to 50 people or less with social distancing. Park facilities, including shelters, picnics, and playgrounds may be open when adequate controls are implemented. Group sports such as pick up basketball are still prohibited.  Hiking, green space, tennis courts, and golf are open for use.

It's another step toward getting western Colorado back to normal and feels like a step in the right direction.

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