GRAND JUCTION, Colo. — The stricter measures mandated by Mesa County go into effect today, November 20th, and as we transition to Level Red on the risk dial, meaning “high risk,” many locals are not happy about the restrictions.
This morning several dozen Grand Valley citizens gathered at Mesa County Public Health to protest the new COVID precautions. The drastic changes implemented by our county’s health department impact a wide variety of businesses, and protesters say they know of companies that won’t be able to reopen if they follow the guidelines. The new mandate closes indoor dining for restaurants that do not fall into the 5-star Variance Program. It also closes bars and indoor entertainment venues, as well as decreases capacity for gyms, retail businesses, office spaces, and outdoor events.
The protesters are encouraging businesses not to follow the new safety measures because they believe it is Mesa County’s job to guide the public and not to force people to follow the rules.
Michael and Justin St. John, brothers who participated in the protest this morning, say, “it should be up to the business owners to decide what degree they’re going to enforce the masking, the distancing in their restaurants or businesses.” They also think it should be up to the business to decided if it should limit its capacity to 25% or 50%. Lastly, they add,”then we as people will decide whether we think that is safe enough to go.”
In response to the protest, officials from Mesa County Public Health say their perspective on the matter has not changed. Jeff Kuhr, from our county’s health department, says, “we have widespread community transmission. I’m simply asking everyone to wear a mask, avoid crowds, and avoid close contact.” Kuhr also says that Stay at Home is still on the risk dial, and it depends on our community whether we get to that point or not.