Street Closures, Other Measures Approved as Denver Continues on Path Toward Reopening

June 18, 2020

On Wednesday, June 17, the City and County of Denver announced that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) approved of a series of variance requests that will allow for street closures and other measures that will ensure that businesses can open successfully while ensuring adequate physical distancing space for returning customers. This approval comes following the Downtown Denver Partnership’s letter to Mayor Hancock urging him and his administration to consider allowing an expedited permitting process for outdoor expansion – including street closures – for businesses.

Aligned with the Partnership’s request to Mayor Hancock and the City, Denver’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) also approved the first street closures along Larimer Street and Glenarm Place.

“Now is a tremendous time of opportunity for us to think differently about how we utilize our streets and our public spaces for the benefit of customers and businesses alike,” said Tami Door, President and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership, “The Partnership applauds Mayor Hancock and our partners at the City for pursuing these and other innovative approaches to reopening during this unprecedented time.”

The City’s variance request to CDPHE included museums, restaurants, 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)
  • 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

These and other 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.

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.

The Temporary Outdoor Expansions Program will now run through October 2021. Businesses interested in temporarily expanding their outdoor serving area, including moving into sidewalks or streets, can apply at this website.