The program relaxes operational restrictions on restaurants and businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Denver will begin accepting applications for its 5-Star Certification Program on Tuesday, February 2. which relaxes COVID-related restrictions for certified businesses and restaurants that meet heightened safety standards.

The city has been conditionally approved by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) to start its 5-Star program but has not been able to fully implement it due to high COVID-19 levels. The city submitted its application to the state seeking to implement the program on December 31, 2020.

Businesses and restaurants that submit applications will be pre-certified until the city can fully implement the program, which will happen after the city demonstrates seven days of stable or declining COVID-19 numbers. Once the city receives official approval, it will notify pre-certified restaurants and businesses that they can begin operating under 5-Star Certification rules.

The 5-Star rules allow businesses to operate at occupancy restrictions one level below their county's current level on the COVID-19 dial if they meet certain requirements. For restaurants, the state's requirements include mandatory mask enforcement, increased spacing between parties, regular cleaning of high-touch surfaces, employee and customer symptom screening, collection of customer data for contact tracing purposes, improved ventilation, and business-specific plans for implementation, compliance, outbreak detection and reporting. The rules also require extra effort to create special hours and accommodations for at-risk populations and zero prior citations for noncompliance with public health orders. The requirements are similar to other businesses and venues.

people in restaurant

Photo by Allison Dike on Shotzr

Businesses that have capacity restrictions due to COVID-19 public health orders will be able to apply, including general business, personal services, indoor events, gyms, and restaurants. Sector-specific and general business guidelines apply.

Businesses can apply for certification at in multiple languages. Instructional videos and checklists have been provided to help businesses prepare for the onsite audit that is required for certification. Businesses will be asked to pay a nominal fee in accordance with revenue size for the application.

Denver is seeking volunteers to help administer the program and is asking companies to identify employees who can dedicate 20 hours per week for a minimum of five weeks to help with reviewing applications and performing site audits. Professional training will be provided, the city said.

Other municipalities around Denver have implemented 5-Star Certification programs, including Douglas County, which implemented its program at the end of December.

Let us know in the comments if your planning to apply.