Red Rocks asks state for permission to host 2,500 people

Denver Arts and Venues has asked the Colorado health department to allow up to 2,500 people to attend concerts at Red Rocks Amphitheatre this spring, with the possibility of larger crowds over the summer.

The request comes as the state reportedly is considering relaxing its COVID-19 rules for all event venues.

If the request is approved, concerts and other events at Red Rocks could operate at about one-quarter of their normal capacity, said Brian Kitts, director of communications for the Denver-owned venue. Parties would have to sit six feet apart and wear masks, and Red Rocks plans to change how people enter and exit so there’s less milling around, he said.

The goal is to work up to hosting about 80% of a normal crowd at Red Rocks by the end of summer, Kitts said. That depends on new COVID-19 cases continuing to fall, though.

“This is a work in progress,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said the agency hadn’t yet received the application, but looks forward to working with the city on its proposal.

Other venues could benefit from a broader change in the state’s COVID-19 rules.

Chris Zacher, executive director of the Levitt Pavilion Denver, said there’s a proposal to allow venues to operate at 50% of capacity starting in April, with no cap on the maximum number of concertgoers. Venues would still have to ensure patrons can stay six feet apart, but the state would eliminate the hard cap on attendance.

Currently, most counties are in Level Blue or Yellow on the state’s dial framework. Venues can operate at up to 50% of capacity in those counties, but have to stay below a cap. In Denver, which is in Level Yellow, that means outdoor events are limited to 175 people, and indoor events are capped at 50 people (or 150 for very large spaces).

If the state moves forward with the proposal, the limit would rise to 60% of capacity in May and as high as 80% in July. The mandatory distance between parties could also drop from six feet to three feet over the summer, if enough people have been vaccinated.

Zacher, who is also chairman of the Colorado Independent Venues Association, said the proposed changes are a step toward preserving the arts in the state.

“Our member venues have been shuttered since March of 2020 and/or have been operating at reduced capacity, which is not a viable pathway for solvency,” he said in a statement. “We are confident that these changes are a step in the right direction to help us save our stages,  jumpstart our economy, and to get people back to work.”

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