Elbert County Public Health seeks to balance our county’s economic needs and citizen wellbeing during the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. In light of the highly infectious nature of the Coronavirus/COVID-19, and in an effort to slow the spread of the virus, activities, events, and other areas where large gatherings traditionally occur have been curtailed under state executive orders. To allow for some relief from these restrictions, Elbert County Public Health has been given approval by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to allow for local variances from the current Executive Order and Public Health Order. This document delineates the process for applying for a local variance from the state orders.
Activities that can be performed with under 25 people, where people can maintain a distance of six (6) feet or greater, and take other prevention measures such as mask-wearing and hand washing are permitted regardless of activity type or industry, and do not require a waiver. If a local entity wants to perform activities at greater capacity levels than are permitted by the existing guidelines, or activities that are not currently permitted under prevailing executive orders, a local entity must complete the following application for a variance from the order and submit it to Elbert County Public Health for review and consideration.
Please note that Elbert County Public Health will not grant a general request to be removed from the current public health order. A local variance request must clearly indicate the provisions of the current public health order from which the county is requesting a variance. Elbert County Public Health will not grant a variance request that reduces or eliminates protections for vulnerable populations, as these groups are specifically protected by the state’s orders. Vulnerable individuals are defined in the Safer at Home Order and PHO 20-28 Part III.Q.
Variance applications must be complete before the review process begins. Variance requests will be evaluated based on prevailing local epidemiological data, the level of virus transmission in the location of the proposed event, the level of exposure risk of the proposed activity, and the comprehensiveness of the proposed prevention plan. Exposure varies with the intensity of the contact, the duration of the contact, and the overall number of people potentially exposed during the contact. The ability to mitigate community transmission of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 at an event includes things like hand washing, increased ventilation, wearing protective gear like face coverings, sterilizing surfaces, and maintaining a 6-foot distance between individuals or members of the different households.
Variances are more likely to be approved for low-exposure activities, with high abilities to do prevention, such as recreation in “park-like” environments where people do not have interactions with members outside of their household, and where it’s feasible to require mask-wearing. Variances are unlikely to be approved for activities that have higher exposure risks where it is difficult to do prevention. This is especially true for communities with higher virus transmission. The riskier the activity, the higher the scrutiny that will be applied to the justification and mitigation plans set forth in the variance request.
All efforts will be made to respond to variance requests within 7-10 business days of receipt. We will communicate with an estimated turnaround time if we are experiencing a high volume of requests and expect the process to take longer than usual.
For current restrictions on business operations and public gatherings in Elbert County, please check the County’s website at elbertcounty-co.gov.