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After reassurance from the county's public health department and to the happy surprise of some event organizers, the Idaho Springs City Council has revised its decision to not issue special event …
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After reassurance from the county's public health department and to the happy surprise of some event organizers, the Idaho Springs City Council has revised its decision to not issue special event permits in 2021.
During a March 1 work session, Mayor Mike Hillman and other council members directed staff to issue permits on the condition that applicants have a COVID-19 plan in place and have county public health's approval.
The events must also be reviewed a month before they take place to see whether capacity or other aspects should be modified to be more or less restrictive, depending on the circumstances, Hillman described.
This is the stance that the county and other municipalities have taken thus far.
The council previously decided against issuing permits at its Feb. 22 work session, citing COVID-19 concerns and the desire to protect organizers' time and money.
(Editor's note: The March 1 work session took place after the March 3 Courant had gone to the press, and so the print version only reflects council's decision at the Feb. 22 work session.)
Hillman noted that Clear Creek County's move to Level Blue on Feb. 26, which is less restrictive than Levels Yellow or Orange on the state's COVID-19 dial, allows up to 250 people at outdoor events.
“It's been noted that by mid-summer, we could be in (Level) Green,” he said. “I've rethought this thing with COVID levels being less restrictive. … I believe that most of our events could (happen) under these requirements.”
Hillman said that Tim Ryan, the county's public health director, supported having events with conditions and caveats in place.
He also stressed that event organizers should be aware that, if the county's COVID-19 situation worsens, the city has the right to pull the permit and not allow the event.
Council members agreed that, as long as organizers were willing to be flexible and understanding, the city could conditionally issue event permits.
“Dr. Ryan is an epidemiologist, so if somebody can put forth a plan that passes muster with the health department, then it will probably be a very safe event,” Councilman Chuck Harmon said.
Hillman said he would work with staff to alter the checklist for event permit applications, to ensure organizers had plans in place and public health's approval, clarifying it will take some time to sort things out.
As for enforcing capacity limits and other health and safety items, outgoing Police Chief Chris Malanka said some events will be easier to handle than others. Anything with hard entrances, such as Golddigger Field, will be much easier than races or other events that take place across a larger area, he explained.
“If they're sanctioned events, public safety will be there,” Malanka continued. “Most events, they do a really good job at policing themselves.”
On Feb. 26, Ryan confirmed his department has been working one-on-one with event coordinators to ensure applicants have a COVID-19 plan in place.
A few summertime events — not in Idaho Springs — have already received public health's tentative approval, Ryan said, adding that his department will be reviewing all events a month beforehand to see whether anything needs to be modified.
Feb. 22 decision
During the Feb. 22 work session, council members were worried that organizers would invest time, money and effort into putting together events only for them to be canceled. They were also concerned that these could become super-spreader events and subsequent outbreaks would close local businesses again.
Thus, during the 6 p.m. work session, council directed staff not to issue any permits this year.
At the 7 p.m. meeting, though, Sarah Morris Wirtz with the RapidGrass Festival and the rec district's Samantha Dhyne said it was possible to host safe outdoor events this year. They described requiring a booking system, socially distanced tables, masks and proper signage.
Hillman remarked that the council had already made its decision, reiterating concerns about super-spreader events and not wanting to waste organizers' efforts.
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