Commissioners want to open up Grand County

Grand County implemented modified COVID restrictions last week, but county commissioners are considering having no restrictions at all.

When the state removed the COVID-19 dial, counties were given the option to implement their own restrictions. Roughly one-third of people in Colorado now live in a county with no COVID restrictions, including those in the populous Weld, Mesa, Elbert and El Paso counties.

Grand County Public Health has opted for a modified local dial, similar to surrounding resort communities. Current restrictions allow for 100% capacities in businesses as long as 6 feet of distance between parties can be maintained; events still require county approval, and a local mask mandate remains for all indoor spaces.

During a Tuesday COVID-19 update, Commissioner Kris Manguso said she would like to follow those other counties and open up Grand completely.

“I always felt that we were doing just what the state was doing and nothing additional,” Manguso said. “I’m still in favor of that, personally.”

She added that towns, businesses and individuals would still have the option to make their own decisions about restrictions and mask-wearing.

The biggest change from dropping regulations would be getting rid of the mask mandate. The county would still be subject to certain regulations, like the state mask mandate for schools, jails and assisted living centers, and federal lands under the federal mask requirement.

Getting rid of county restrictions would also allow businesses greater capacity since there would be no distancing requirements. Only large events would need prior approval from the state.

The county does currently have the option to implement stricter restrictions if conditions warrant it. With the most recent update, GCPH now weighs COVID hospitalizations and deaths along with case numbers.

While there has been recent uptick in local COVID cases, Grand County Public Health chose not to raise restrictions because the increase was not reflected in hospitalizations.

Even so, county commissioners are leaning toward ridding Grand of all restrictions.

“I would like us to be the least restrictive possible,” Manguso said. “We are truly a Republican county, as Douglas, El Paso, Elbert, Mesa and Weld are. All three of us sitting here are Republicans, anyway, and I would really like to see us consider opening up all the way.”

Commissioner Merrit Linke said he was inclined to agree with Manguso, especially as more people get vaccinated. He reiterated that towns and businesses would have the choice to implement their own regulations.

Commissioner Rich Cimino said he was open to a conversation. The commissioners plan to meet as the board of health on Monday for further discussions with the health department.

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