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New Colorado Orders and Guidance More Clearly Pave the Way for Recreation and Competition

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

Personal and outdoor recreational activities now have more guidance from the state on operations with the Colorado Governor Polis's new Executive Order D 2020 091 (Safer at Home and in the Vast, Great Outdoors), the Fifth Amended Public Health Order 20-28, and the sector-specific guidance from the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment. [Remember: Your local health authorities may have more restrictive requirements or may have variances granted from the state to operate with less restrictions.]

(Update: This post was amended to reflect a Sixth Amended Public Health Order 20-28 issued June 5, 2020, superseding the Fifth.)

Things obviously are not back to 100%, but there is progress.

Let's take equestrian activities as an example. Those who have and ride horses for pleasure and competition do so both indoors and outdoors. There also are guided trail rides for the one-time customer. Depending on the circumstances, one reasonably could interpret the riding activity either as "personal recreation" or "outdoor recreation." Under the guidance for both categories, "Competitive events such as races and endurance events are permitted as long as 6 foot distancing and limitations on group size can be maintained." Thus, it is now clear that horse shows are permitted---provided adequate measures are in place to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people at a time. Some suggestions are staggered start times and preventing gatherings at starts and finishes.

How about indoor riding? With these new orders, if we assume that an indoor riding arena falls into the category of an "indoor sports facility" for "personal recreation," then the guidance sets the limit at up to the lesser of 25% capacity or 50 people, so long as people can stay six feet apart. This means that, if indoor arenas are "indoor sports facilities," the now-common 10-person limit indoors has been expanded. There are a number of other measures encouraged for use of indoor sports facilities, including reservation systems, avoidance of and cleaning shared equipment, maximizing ventilation, access to hand sanitizer, encourage face coverings where safe to do so, temperature checks and monitoring of employees, and signage about safety measures and good hand/respiratory hygiene. Note, by contrast, however, that "organized recreational youth or adult league sports" are limited to "10 players indoors." If an activity could fall in this category, that could change the analysis.

These are just two examples of the analysis that facility owners and event sponsors may need to undertake as they begin to host more people and events. There are a vast array of requirements and guidance to ensure compliance with orders and recommended safety guidelines, as to both customers and employees. Be sure to carefully read state and local orders and publications, and monitor them regularly for changes. Every circumstance is unique, and the orders and best practices that apply to one setting may not apply to another. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Consider, too, whether the size and complexity of your operation or event warrants proactively working with your local public health authority to ensure safe and acceptable operations, or warrants engaging legal counsel about what other risk mitigation measures might make sense, such as additional COVID-19 signage or liability waivers.

Then, get back to enjoying your sport!

Note: Laws change and individual circumstances vary and change, especially in this time of coronavirus! If you are in need of legal assistance, seek legal counsel. This post is not intended and should not be relied on as legal advice for your particular circumstance, and it relies on information that can quickly become out of date. Contact Margrit with any questions,, 303-481-2866. And visit here for links to more Covid-19 resources.

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