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Castle Rock sends letter to Polis opposing COVID ‘Level Red’ restrictions, will not enforce them

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (KDVR) — Castle Rock has officially declared its opposition to the state’s decision to move Douglas County to “Level Red” on the COVID dial and says it will not participate in the enforcement of Level Red restrictions.

Town council voted four to one in favor of the resolution at a special meeting Tuesday night. Following its passing, Castle Rock will now send a letter to Gov. Jared Polis stating the town’s position. 

The letter says, in part, “we oppose our county’s apparent unequal treatment and move to Level Red. We reiterate our request that you help our community’s local restaurants by allowing indoor dining in Douglas County to reopen at some viable percentage, as outdoor-only service is simply impractical this time of year.”

Councilman George Teal proposed an amendment adding language that Castle Rock “will not comply” with Level Red restrictions. That idea was voted down three to two. 

The move to send the letter is largely symbolic, as it will not directly lead to changes in Castle Rock unless Polis or Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) agree to move Douglas County back down to level orange, yellow, blue or green. 

The language regarding enforcement is symbolic too. Castle Rock police or other authorities currently do not enforce the state’s public health order. According to Mayor Jason Gray, enforcement has always been up to the state. 

“I think our end goal is to be heard,” Gray told FOX31. 

Dozens of Castle Rock residents and business owners spoke during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting to express their support of the resolution. Many said they would be out of business or need to lay off employees if the temporary ban on indoor dining persists. 

Those opposed to Level Red restrictions largely criticized the state’s guidelines as unfair due to the fact that stores are still allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity for in-person shopping. 

“No matter what your level of comfort is, we need to be open. And it’s hard to watch other places be open when there’s restrictions on your business,” Gray said. 

Not all of Castle Rock agrees with going against the grain. Council member Caryn Johnson opposed the resolution and each amendment, citing a record number of COVID deaths in Douglas County this month as a reason why Castle Rock needs to follow CDPHE orders. 

Castle Rock resident Paul Sutton wrote to council saying, “I believe it is totally irresponsible of the city council to even consider asking for a variance from the state mandate…”

His statement goes on to say, “you give the citizens a false impression that we are immune from the consequences of COVID-19 spread.”

In an interview with FOX31, Mayor Jason Gray said he can see both sides of the issue.

“I don’t think our council is saying, ‘Hey, we don’t want to be safe anymore.’ And I don’t want that impression either. I think we want to be safe,” he said. 

Gray, the town council, and other Castle Rock administrators stressed that if businesses choose not to comply with public health orders, the potential consequences will be their own responsibility.

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