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City and County of Denver Variance Requests Approved by CDPHE

DOTI approves first street closures to allow more physical distancing space for restaurants along Larimer Square and Glenarm Place

DENVER – The City and County of Denver’s latest variance request to portions of the Safer at Home Order has been approved by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). Denver’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) today has also approved the first street closures along Larimer Street and Glenarm Place so that restaurants can provide more physical distancing space for returning customers.

The city’s variance request to CDPHE included museums and Four Mile Park, restaurants, the Cherry Creek Mall, gyms, recreation centers, indoor pools and horse competitions at the National Western Complex. The requests were approved by CDPHE with some amendments. CDPHE has deemed that variance locations should not exceed more than 50 people gathered in a room or “confined indoor space” at any given time, and not exceed 125 people in an outdoor space.

The approved variances for the City and County of Denver include:

  • Museums may operate at 50% occupancy with up to 50 people per room and not to exceed 125 people in an outdoor space. Museums can open under this variance after submitting their reopening plan to the city for review and approval
  • Restaurants may operate at 50% occupancy with up to 50 people in a confined indoor space (as opposed to the Safer at Home statewide limitation of 50 people for the entire restaurant)
  • The Cherry Creek Mall may open the indoor mall, and stores within Cherry Creek Mall may operate at 50% occupancy 
  • Gyms, recreation centers and indoor pools may operate at 50% occupancy with up to 50 people in a confined space
  • Horse competitions at the National Western Complex can occur with activities limited to 50 people and no spectator shows

The variances were approved by CDPHE based on the city’s current prevalence of COVID-19. The city also needed to demonstrate that it has a strong public health surveillance system, sufficient hospital capacity, and appropriate thresholds for rolling back the variance if conditions worsen.

CDPHE’s approval to the city’s variances takes effect immediately.

Denver hit two other milestones today in the unprecedented effort to help food establishments safely serve more customers as the phased re-opening of the city continues. Eighty-five food establishments have now been approved to participate in the Temporary Outdoor Patio Expansion Program.

The first street closures have also been approved for Larimer Street between 14th and 15th streets in Larimer Square and on Glenarm Place between 15th and 17th streets in the Denver Pavilions. The street closures will allow multiple establishments to expand their outdoor service area into the roadway.  Businesses interested in temporarily expanding their outdoor serving area, including moving into sidewalks or streets, can apply at this website.

For up-to-date information on the city’s recovery and relief plan and actions, visit Denvergov. org/Covid19.



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Variance Requests

The City and County of Denver variance request process follows the recommendations from the State of Colorado and holds public health as the top priority in the consideration of all requests. Please be aware that the process requires extensive review and consideration and may take several weeks to complete. Additionally, the processing of requests may be paused or delayed at any time based on trends with virus data.

Of note, on September 15, 2020, the State of Colorado issued Public Health Order 20-35, which implemented the “Safer at Home Dial.”  The Safer at Home Dial places counties in different levels based on certain metrics related to COVID-19 cases and, depending on that level, implements certain restrictions on the types of variances the county may seek.  Currently, variance requests for counties like Denver, who are in Safer at Home: Level 2, are only being considered for outdoor site-specific venues that are greater than 30,000 square feet in size.  Thus, requests submitted by industry wide organizations will not be approved or submitted to the State by the City and County of Denver at this time.  The City and County of Denver’s level may change, and along with that, the types of variances it may seek may change, as well.  However, variances may only be requested for allowances laid out in the next level of the State’s dial framework from the level where we are currently.  We encourage you to review the State’s website and to monitor this page for updates.