Moffat County Board of Health applies for restaurant variance, sends letter to Gov. Polis
Following the approval of its first variance request on May 14, the Moffat County Board of County Commissioners and the Board of Public Health now awaits an approval for its second variance request, this time pertaining to the reopening of restaurants locally.
On May 14, the Moffat County Board of Public Health, with approval from the Moffat County Public Health Director Kari Ladrow and Medical Officer Dr. Brian Harrington, submitted a second variance request, asking Governor Jared Polis and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to allow the reopening of local restaurants to at least 30 percent capacity.
The Board of Public Health did not include restaurants in the first variance request after meeting with restaurant owners April 22, in which a majority of restaurant owners said they weren’t comfortable opening just yet.
With the May 14 submission of a second variance request pertaining to restaurants, the Moffat County Board of Public Health sent a letter to Gov. Polis and the CDPHE asking them to approve the request in time for Memorial Day Weekend. At this time the Governor’s office and the CDPHE has not responded to Moffat County’s request.
Below is the letter from the Board of Public Health to the Governor and the CDPHE in its entirety.
Dear Governor Polis:
We want to thank you for taking appropriate measures to protect the public health of Coloradans, and it is apparent that efforts to “flatten the curve” have been successful in Colorado. Hospitals have been able to meet the needs of those suffering from COVID-19 in Colorado because Coloradans followed your “Stay at Home” Executive Order and the corresponding Public Health Order from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment.
The Moffat County Board of Health (the Board of County Commissioners) has strongly encouraged its residents to follow the Stay at Home Order and we have supported your actions as governor in protecting the public health. Now we are requesting that you support the Moffat County Public Health Agency by authorizing our local public health agency to make decisions locally and get our community back to work.
At this point, we believe it is essential to balance how we protect the public health of the citizens of Moffat County, Colorado, by encouraging folks to follow Social Distancing protocols and other guidelines to protect physical health, but also allowing them to go back to work and be able to interact with each other to protect their social, emotional, spiritual and mental health as well. We believe the appropriate public health policy for our community should balance all the public health needs of our citizens and also take into consideration that we have had very few cases and there have been no new cases in Moffat County for four weeks.
While the Moffat County Board of Health understands there is a risk that people can still succumb to this virus, there are measures in place to protect the people of Moffat County. We cannot realistically stay as shut down as we are due to the adverse impact on local businesses, restaurant owners, and individuals. The toll of isolation and unemployment has to be weighed in considering public health. At this time, Moffat County has cancelled or curtailed almost all of its signature and/or social events for the summer, including Memorial Day Services, the celebration of July 4th, Grand Old West Days, and the Balloon Festival.
Moffat County has only had six people with diagnosed cases of COVID-19, and all six have recovered. The Moffat County Board of Health has recently deployed a testing center on two consecutive Fridays, testing 48 individuals, all of which tested negative for COVID-19. We are taking steps to mitigate transmission of this virus and, at this point, we firmly believe it is better for the overall public health of Moffat County residents to have businesses open back up, preferably at 30% capacity for a limited time, and then at a greater capacity if no new cases emerge.
Almost every person in Moffat County who owns a smaller retail business, gym, or restaurant is facing a public health crisis on another level because of the mental and emotional stress these business owners endure trying to stay in business, pay rent, utilities, employees, and taxes, at the same time they have either no income or greatly reduced income.
We appreciate that you granted our request for a variance from portions of Executive Directive D20 044 and Public Health Order 20-28 on May 14, 2020, so that Retail, Gyms, Movie Theaters, and Places of Worship are once again permitted to operate in Moffat County, provided they comply with certain conditions and a defined plan.
On May 14, 2020, the Moffat County Public Health Agency submitted another request for a variance so that restaurants in Moffat County can be re-opened as well. We are requesting that you act to grant our second request for a variance and allow Moffat County restaurants to be able to open up (with a defined plan to protect public health) before Memorial Day Weekend so that Moffat County residents can get back to work as soon as possible.
Commissioners Ray Beck, Don Cook, and Donald Broom
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