Churches, gyms, pools and outdoor recreation activities have been given greater leeway to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, but, locally, there's been no rush to take advantage of the looser restrictions.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released guidelines Thursday allowing for the resumption of activities of groups up to a maximum of 10 people, socially distanced and wearing face masks when possible.
The guidelines applied to parks, pools, gyms, churches, rafting and fishing.
Among the larger fitness centers, Villa Sports has reopened, and VASA Fitness and Life Time Fitness posted that they planned to open next week.
Houses of worship were granted greater freedom on Thursday by the state to resume gatherings at 50% of capacity up to a maximum of 50 people.
Attendees who are not of the same household must be seated at least 6 feet apart. The state previously allowed houses of worship to hold gatherings of no more than 10 people.
Few churches in Colorado Springs appear to be reopening immediately, although the Catholic Diocese of Colorado Springs already had resumed services.
While the state's stay-at-home order was in effect, several area churches livestreamed their services.
The Islamic Society of Colorado Springs got creative in recent weeks to restart Friday services and abide by the previous order of gatherings no larger than 10 people, President Kamel Elwazeir said.
The mosque shortened services from 40 minutes to 15 minutes and held four services for small groups, each in quick succession, he said.
Greater freedom for faith groups to meet has been a priority locally and El Paso County submitted a variance to the state that would have allowed churches to open at 25% occupancy last week. The state did not respond to the variance before issuing the latest guidance.
For one politically active Christian, Laurel Anne Flahive, the greater freedom granted by the state doesn’t go far enough. She doesn’t want to see the government put any limits on churches.
“We should be able to freely exercise worship within this country,” she said.
On Friday, Colorado Springs released the following schedule of when city-operated facilities and program would restart:
• The Deerfield Hills, Hillside and Meadows Park community centers open only for modified summer camps beginning June 1. Most programs have already reached capacity, but limited availability remains at Meadows Park.
Modified food distribution is also being offered at the community centers.
• All 137 city-owned playgrounds reopened Friday with use restricted to a maximum of 10 people at a time. Social distancing and face masks are recommended.
• The Pioneers Museum will remain closed to the public, but the Colorado Farm and Art Market at Alamo Park resumes from 3 to 7 p.m. every Wednesday beginning next week.
• The Deerfield Hills Spray Ground, Water Hole at Venezia Park and Uncle Wilbur Fountain at Acacia Park will open June 17 with a maximum of 50 people allowed at one time. Routine cleanings will happen several times a day, it said.
• The Julie Penrose Fountain at America the Beautiful Park will be closed over the summer because of construction.
• Pools at Wilson Ranch and Monument Valley, operated by the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region, will be open at a limited capacity, the city said. A reopening date has not been officially set, but could be as soon as June 22. Portal Pool and Prospect Lake Beach will remain closed.
It's possible city-owned indoor pools at the Cottonwood Creek Family Center YMCA and Memorial Park Family Center YMCA could open at a later date.
• Historic sites, except the Orchard House, are open to the public.
• The Sertich Ice Center in Memorial Park will begin accepting private reservations for up to 50 people beginning June 15. Teams in organized leagues must observe a 25-player limit, the city said.
• Gatherings of more than 10 people are still banned in non-residential public and private areas, including outdoor pavilions, the city said. Exceptions include farmer's markets and competitive events such as races and endurance events, which are allowed with social distancing. Race directors were told to use staggered start times to avoid crowds.
Large pavilions including Cheyenne Canon Mesa, Memorial Park Pavilion Complex, Monument Valley Park, Palmer Park and Venezia Park must be reserved and limited to less than 10 people, the city said.
• All city youth and adult summer programs can begin practice June 15 with a maximum of 25 people per game or practice, excluding coaches and referees. Spectators for adult sports are strongly discouraged.
Reservations from organized leagues, sport camps and outdoor camps will be accepted beginning Monday. The Therapeutic Recreation Program is offering modified summer camps starting July 1.
• The Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center is open during regular business hours. Restrooms at the Starsmore Visitor & Nature Center are open but the center itself is closed. The Helen Hunt Falls Visitor Center also remains closed.
• Pool halls and dart halls are still banned, El Paso County Public Health said Friday. Car, motorcycle and horse races are also prohibited unless here are no spectators and race personnel can maintain six-foot distancing, county health said. Sporting events, except for recreational leagues, are also still prohibited.