Daily Camera guest opinion: Camille Rodriguez: Closer to normal

·3 min read

Sep. 28—By Camille Rodriguez

Healthy, active businesses are an essential component in Boulder County's pandemic recovery and return to normal life. Prosperous businesses are a boon for everyone — owners, workers, support services and patrons.

The Vaccine Verification Program allows businesses and events in Boulder County to provide a mask-free experience in their indoor spaces provided that the business or event verifies the COVID-19 vaccination status of all customers, staff and guests. Businesses and events approved for the program by Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) receive an exception to Boulder County's universal mask order, PHO 2021-08.

The mask order requires all individuals 2 and older to wear a mask in all indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status, including any indoor space that is not a private residence such as offices, restaurants, manufacturing, gyms, sports facilities, recreation centers, retail stores, hair salons, bars and government buildings.

To obtain approval from BCPH, a business or event must submit the following:

To be approved, businesses must have 95% of all individuals in their facility fully vaccinated, including employees, staff, guests, members, visitors, children, etc. The calculation of the 95% must include all people in the indoor space, including exempt and vaccine-ineligible individuals, such as those who are under 12. All businesses, events and organizations operating in an indoor space are encouraged to apply. Small businesses employers (less than 100 employees) who cannot meet the 95% with their employees can call 970-599-1256.

Boulder County Public Health encourages businesses and events to consider additional mitigation strategies, such as improved ventilation and air circulation, increased distancing, limiting capacity, symptom screening and proper hand hygiene.

Once approved, the facility or event must post signs indicating proof of vaccination is required for entry.

Sally Spooner, owner of PeaksFit gym on Folsom Street in Boulder, says the decision to become a vaccine verified facility was motivated by the desire to keep her clientele safe.

"At PeaksFit, we are a fitness family. Our goal is to get our clients in the best shape of their life. Keeping them as healthy as possible includes protecting them from Covid-19 as best we can," Spooner said. "We had open and honest conversations with our members, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, and the feedback was positive—everyone wants to keep their fellow gym members safe. The sooner more businesses become vaccine verified, the sooner we can get back to normal."

A business can apply to the program for its indoor space 24/7, certain times and dates, or certain rooms within the facility. Single events such as a wedding or concert may also apply.

Proof of vaccination requires producing or showing an official paper or photocopy of a CDC vaccine card, including as shown on the myColorado app. Businesses may also use a third-party application as long as the application verifies the vaccine card.

The business or event is responsible for ensuring unvaccinated individuals compromise less than 5% of all individuals in the indoor space. Wearing a mask or presenting a negative COVID-19 test are not valid alternatives to proof of vaccination.

Some businesses may not be eligible for the program, including long-term care facilities, some healthcare facilities, transportation hubs, school buildings, indoor childcare settings, indoor youth sports, indoor youth activities and camps.

Applications for the Vaccine Verification Program are being accepted via the Boulder County Public Health website: boco.org/VaccineVerificationProgram.

Ensuring staff members have the information and time need to get vaccinated is an important step in containing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping businesses and events open and operating.

We must continue to build our community immunity and make the right choices to protect everyone.

BCPH offers detailed information on what to do if employees test positive for COVID-19, how to report illnesses, legal protections for employees and other resources: boco.org/EmploymentResources.

Camille Rodriguez is Executive Director of Boulder County Public Health

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