Colorado just ordered most Denver venues to do what they’ve been doing already
“This is business as usual for the main core of the venues we oversee.”
Starting this week, you’ll need to be vaccinated to attend large public indoor events at spaces like clubs and music venues. On Nov. 14, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced a new public health order mandating that patrons over the age of 12 attending Denver-metro public, indoor events of 500-plus people must provide proof of full vaccination.
The mandate applies to controlled-access unseated events and venues in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Jefferson, Broomfield and Denver counties, including “concerts, receptions, bars, dance halls, and auctions” where 500-plus people are expected to fill a single room or area. Places of worship like temples, churches, Mosques and synagogues are excluded from the mandate.
Seated events, or those in which 100% of attendees are seated, are exempt from the order, though some seated venues like the Denver Center for the Performing Arts already require proof of vaccination. The mandate also doesn’t apply to private unseated indoor events, though the State does recommend private event coordinators implement vaccination and testing requirements.
“I am grateful for the counties that are coordinating with the state to slow the spread of the virus. Large venues and local governments are part of the solution to ending the pandemic,” Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of CDPHE, said in a statement. “We also need all Coloradans to do their part by getting vaccinated if they haven’t already; getting a booster; and following basic public health precautions like masking, staying home when sick, and handwashing.”
Scott Bookman, COVID-19 Incident Commander of the CDPHE, told CPR the CDPHE arrived at 500 for this mandate because the primary goal was to stop “super-spreader” events.
“What we know is that indoor large gatherings are significantly more dangerous than outdoor large gatherings,” Bookman said. “That’s why this focus is on the events that are the most unsafe. Indoor unseated is what we know poses the highest risk.”
Bookman told CPR that 80% of the counties’ venues that can hold 500-plus people are within the Denver metro area. But many local venues already had vaccination policies in place.
AEG Presents-operated venues like 1STBANK Center, Mission Ballroom, Bluebird Theater and Ogden Theatre have been requiring proof of vaccination since Oct. 1.
“This is business as usual for the main core of the venues we oversee,” said Don Strasburg, co-president and senior talent buyer of AEG Rocky Mountains Presents. “These are the steps that we enacted early. We felt and still believe they are the most impactful. And we will follow public health policy if it changes.”
Smaller venues, like Your Mom’s House and hi-dive, that have capacities of under 500 are not covered by the order. But while many venues won’t be impacted by the change, it’ll push a few others to solely require vaccinations, when they had previously been accepting proof of either vaccination or a recent negative COVID test. Some affected venues are clubs like Temple and Church, and music venues like Summit Music Hall, Fillmore Auditorium, Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom and the Oriental Theatre.
The order is a response to rises in COVID cases and hospitalizations in Colorado.
Per a CDPHE release, about 88% of intensive care beds were occupied in Colorado as of Nov. 12, and 94% of medical beds in Colorado were occupied. A CDC study from September found that unvaccinated people are 10 times more likely to be hospitalized than vaccinated people.
Strasburg said vaccination requirements in large venues may help prevent hospitalizations.
“Theoretically, if 10% of the audience is not vaccinated, those 10% are more likely to catch it and maybe wind up overwhelming and overburdening our healthcare systems, which is inappropriate and not where we wanted to stand,” Strasburg said.
The public health order is one of a few new measures made by officials in the last week to help combat the spread of COVID. On Nov. 11, Gov. Polis made vaccine boosters available for Coloradans older than 18, pending federal approval. And some local health directors want even stricter policies, and are urging Polis to require proof of vaccination for places like bars, restaurants.
The order will go into effect Nov. 19.
At that time, patrons at these events must provide proof of full vaccination, meaning two weeks have passed since their second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or after their first J&J shot. Up until Dec. 1, venues with their own existing vaccine and testing requirements can also accept printed proof of a negative COVID test taken within 48 hours of entry in place of proof of vaccination, but after Dec. 1 those venues may only accept proof of vaccination. Venues can also submit variance requests to CDPHE if they’ve already implemented similar safety measures.
Per the order, if venues and organizers fail to comply, they face penalties like “jail time, and fines, and may also be subject to discipline on a professional license based upon the applicable practice act.”
The order is set to remain in effect until Dec. 31.