When customers step inside Jennifer Saddoris’ boutique fitness studio in Boulder, she likes to think that by shedding their masks, they can put the worries of the global coronavirus pandemic behind them — if only for the length of a workout.

“Just looking around the room, you don’t feel like you’re in a pandemic,” Saddoris said. “You don’t feel that cloth on your mouth. It feels like normal.”

Saddoris’ business, Shred415 at 1895 28th St. in Boulder, is among nearly 300 Boulder County facilities that have become part of the county’s optional vaccine verification program.

Instructor Julie Robertson, right, leads a group in a workout at Shred415 in Boulder on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022. Boulder County’s optional vaccine verification program allows businesses to opt out of mask orders if at least 95% of all people indoors are vaccinated. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

Boulder County Public Health in September reinstated its mask mandate for indoor public spaces. Public Health started offering the vaccine verification program at the end of that month. The vaccine verification program allows exemption from the mask mandate if businesses verify that at least 95% of people in the indoor space are fully vaccinated. Businesses have to be approved for the program. They can also choose to be vaccine verified some of the time and open to anyone during other time slots, but must require masks for everyone when not implementing the program.

“The 286 facilities participating in the program have reported positive feedback from staff and clients, members and guests,” said Boulder County Public Health spokesperson Angela Simental. “From large employers like Google to government entities like the city of Longmont to smaller breweries like Primitive Brewery, the program has provided an opportunity for businesses to operate safely without masking.”

Simental said participating businesses go through a “rigorous application process” to ensure that they understand and can implement the program. Boulder County Public Health’s Partner Liaison Team also conducts site visits and audits of involved businesses to assure compliance.

The program will be active so long as there is a mask order in Boulder County. The mask mandate can be lifted once the the county maintains 21 consecutive days of moderate or low transmission.

Saddoris spoke in late September about how she planned to sign up for the program. Saddoris said this month that since receiving the approval for the program late last year, it has gone well for the business.

The studio combines cardio and strength training, using weightlifting and running on a treadmill — not impossible tasks with a mask, she noted, but certainly challenging.

“People feel very uncomfortable running with a mask on,” Saddoris said. “I think this program has allowed us to maintain those numbers, grow numbers and provide that option where they can still have a high-intensity workout running or jogging and feel normal.”

Bryan Barger, center, lifts during a workout at Shred415 in Boulder on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022. Boulder County’s optional vaccine verification program allows businesses to opt out of mask orders if at least 95% of all people indoors are vaccinated. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

Customers who use the studio sign up for classes in advance. They have to show their COVID-19 vaccination card only once for it to be logged. The gym still practices social distancing and takes other precautions, such as not sharing equipment.

A couple of people reached out to express interest in joining the studio, but when they learned that it was vaccine verified, they said they weren’t vaccinated.

“We say, ‘OK, come back when you are or when we’re not in this high transmission status,’” Saddoris said.

Largely, Saddoris said, the reaction from her customers has been positive. She said a very slim number, about three prospective customers, didn’t want to get vaccinated in order to use the studio. Saddoris said these people weren’t upset about the situation and understood that they didn’t meet the requirements.

“We knew there was a high vaccination rate (in Boulder County), so we didn’t expect there to be a problem, and really there hasn’t been a problem,” Saddoris said. “Most everybody knows this is a thing. Other gyms do it, too.”

Boulder County Public Health data shows that roughly 70% of the eligible population in the county has been fully vaccinated.

A ‘lifeline’ for businesses

In the months since the program’s inception, John Tayer, president and CEO of the Boulder Chamber, said he’s received “significantly positive response from folks” involved in the program. Tayer described it as a “lifeline” for a number of businesses.

“What we know is that vaccination is the best way to prevent the spread of this disease,” Tayer said. “For our businesses we know that having the flexibility to provide a safe environment — where everybody in the facility is vaccine verified — is something that has been welcomed by customers and employees.”

Protests against vaccine passports

On Dec. 4, there were two Boulder County protests to speak out against “vaccine passports.” On that day, a group of roughly 50 protesters rallied at the Boulder County Fairgrounds to protest the Winter Market’s requirement that people 12 and older be vaccinated to enter.

The market was not part of the county’s verification program. Instead, due to a state public health order that mandates people at events of more than 500 prove their vaccination status, vaccination was required to attend the event.

Some of those protesting the Longmont event entered the building anyway.

In Boulder, a group of roughly 200 protesters rallied outside Gov. Jared Polis’ condominium to protest vaccine passports and the state public health order. The group circled the block several times before marching through downtown.

A rock and a hard place

In Longmont, Climbing Collective co-founder and CEO Bryan Hylenski said he lost customers when the mask mandate was reinstated in Boulder County but not in neighboring counties. He said that in September, when the mandate went into effect, the climbing gym’s revenue dropped close to 30%.

Daniel Trevino, of Erie, climbs at the Longmont Climbing Collective on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022. The LCC has been approved for Boulder County’s optional vaccine verification program, which allows businesses to opt out of mask orders if at least 95% of all people indoors are vaccinated. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

“People were telling us they could go to Broomfield; they could go to Fort Collins; they could go to northern Denver and Thornton — all of those places are 30-plus minutes away, and we’re 10 minutes away, but it was worth it to them to work out without a mask on,” Hylenski said.

He said most of those customers were vaccinated but were frustrated they still had to wear a mask. With roughly 30% of the county still not fully vaccinated, the situation put the business in a tough position.

Initially, Hylenski’s understanding of the vaccine verification program was that it applied to all of the facility or none. When he learned there was a hybrid model of the vaccine verification program allowing for verification at some times and being open to anyone at other times, he thought that made the most sense.

“We couldn’t do the whole facility (for the program) and so that was frustrating, because so many other counties were letting people come in and out without masks, and they didn’t have these options of vaccine verification,” Hylenski said.

The Climbing Collective, at 33 S. Pratt Parkway, received its vaccine verification approval Jan. 5. But with the spread of the contagious omicron COVID-19 variant, Hylenski said the Climbing Collective plans to delay the program until at least February. When enacted, the program will offer vaccine verified hours from 7 to 10 a.m. and 8 to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday. At all other times, masks will be required.

“Other gyms are doing it, which hopefully will help us compete with gyms in other counties that don’t have masks at all,” Hylenski said. “The long-term goal of this program would be to extend the hours and learn how large that population is. Because, getting people’s opinion on this topic, especially when things change every month, is hard to nail down.”

The day the music thrived

Not all musicians can play their instrument while wearing a mask. For the roughly 30 wind and brass players of the Longmont Symphony Orchestra, mask mandates meant they couldn’t make music.

Catherine Beeson, Longmont Symphony Orchestra executive director, said the nonprofit applied to the vaccine verification program in September so musicians could return to the stage. The nonprofit was approved for the program in October, just in time for the Longmont Symphony Orchestra’s earliest fall season performances.

Maddie Levinson, Longmont Symphony horn player, is pictured in December. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

“The masking is really about the wind and brass instruments, because we can’t perform without them,” Beeson said. “The Longmont Symphony Orchestra is a full orchestra with all the instruments. For us to proceed as intended, we needed to make sure we could have that permission to do it.”

Vaccine verification and masking is required for anyone who attends Longmont Symphony Orchestra performances. Each of the performances can also be viewed online.

“There is no 100% safety. There is only safer practice. We wanted to create that sense of security that we are doing the best we can,” Beeson said.

At the Nomad Playhouse in Boulder, a dance production called “Grace,” a coproduction with Wild Heart Dance, finally got its moment on stage in September, thanks to the vaccine verification program.

Catherine Barricklow, the artistic producer and production manager, said the theater, at 1410 Quince Ave., signed up for the program as soon as it was available. The dance production, originally scheduled for April 2020, had been postponed three times, until the program made it possible to deliver on stage.

“(The program) truly allows for the art to be able to continue in a way where it’s intact and following the vision of the artist who created it,” Barricklow said. “There are truly things that can’t happen in the performance world with masks on. (The program) is one of those things that allows us to continue in an uncertain time.”

It has since given actors and dancers the chance to be together again on stage. For set designers and technical workers, who are doing physically demanding work such as hanging lights and building sets, it allowed them to remove their masks and feel safer.

Like the Longmont Symphony Orchestra, Barricklow said, audience members must prove vaccination and are still asked to wear masks.

“That’s an extra level of precaution that we as a theater are putting in place,” Barricklow said. “We are largely following the example of what we’re seeing in professional theaters around the country, New York and Broadway.”

There was some adjustment for audience members when the program was put into place. While Barricklow said the theater did its best to notify people they needed proof of vaccination, not everyone got the message in time.

There was some adjustment in early shows after the verification program started, when people weren’t as much in the habit of proving their vaccination with their vaccine card or an easily accessible photo on their phone.

Five productions later, Barricklow said, “We haven’t seen any further trouble with it.”

For the Longmont Symphony Orchestra, Beeson called opting into the verification program “necessary.”

“We feel very, very lucky to be performing in a safe environment now,” Beeson said. “It’s interesting how all of us are trying to find our way forward as the pandemic does whatever it does. We can’t control the virus, but we can control some of our behaviors.”

How to sign up

Businesses that want to become vaccine verified can fill out an application on the county’s website at bit.ly/3A1Rfwb.

Source by [author_name]

When customers step inside Jennifer Saddoris’ boutique fitness studio in Boulder, she likes to think that by shedding their masks, they can put the worries of the global coronavirus pandemic behind them — if only for the length of a workout.

“Just looking around the room, you don’t feel like you’re in a pandemic,” Saddoris said. “You don’t feel that cloth on your mouth. It feels like normal.”

Saddoris’ business, Shred415 at 1895 28th St. in Boulder, is among nearly 300 Boulder County facilities that have become part of the county’s optional vaccine verification program.

Instructor Julie Robertson, right, leads a group in a workout at Shred415 in Boulder on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022. Boulder County’s optional vaccine verification program allows businesses to opt out of mask orders if at least 95% of all people indoors are vaccinated. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

Boulder County Public Health in September reinstated its mask mandate for indoor public spaces. Public Health started offering the vaccine verification program at the end of that month. The vaccine verification program allows exemption from the mask mandate if businesses verify that at least 95% of people in the indoor space are fully vaccinated. Businesses have to be approved for the program. They can also choose to be vaccine verified some of the time and open to anyone during other time slots, but must require masks for everyone when not implementing the program.

“The 286 facilities participating in the program have reported positive feedback from staff and clients, members and guests,” said Boulder County Public Health spokesperson Angela Simental. “From large employers like Google to government entities like the city of Longmont to smaller breweries like Primitive Brewery, the program has provided an opportunity for businesses to operate safely without masking.”

Simental said participating businesses go through a “rigorous application process” to ensure that they understand and can implement the program. Boulder County Public Health’s Partner Liaison Team also conducts site visits and audits of involved businesses to assure compliance.

The program will be active so long as there is a mask order in Boulder County. The mask mandate can be lifted once the the county maintains 21 consecutive days of moderate or low transmission.

Saddoris spoke in late September about how she planned to sign up for the program. Saddoris said this month that since receiving the approval for the program late last year, it has gone well for the business.

The studio combines cardio and strength training, using weightlifting and running on a treadmill — not impossible tasks with a mask, she noted, but certainly challenging.

“People feel very uncomfortable running with a mask on,” Saddoris said. “I think this program has allowed us to maintain those numbers, grow numbers and provide that option where they can still have a high-intensity workout running or jogging and feel normal.”

Bryan Barger, center, lifts during a workout at Shred415 in Boulder on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022. Boulder County’s optional vaccine verification program allows businesses to opt out of mask orders if at least 95% of all people indoors are vaccinated. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

Customers who use the studio sign up for classes in advance. They have to show their COVID-19 vaccination card only once for it to be logged. The gym still practices social distancing and takes other precautions, such as not sharing equipment.

A couple of people reached out to express interest in joining the studio, but when they learned that it was vaccine verified, they said they weren’t vaccinated.

“We say, ‘OK, come back when you are or when we’re not in this high transmission status,’” Saddoris said.

Largely, Saddoris said, the reaction from her customers has been positive. She said a very slim number, about three prospective customers, didn’t want to get vaccinated in order to use the studio. Saddoris said these people weren’t upset about the situation and understood that they didn’t meet the requirements.

“We knew there was a high vaccination rate (in Boulder County), so we didn’t expect there to be a problem, and really there hasn’t been a problem,” Saddoris said. “Most everybody knows this is a thing. Other gyms do it, too.”

Boulder County Public Health data shows that roughly 70% of the eligible population in the county has been fully vaccinated.

A ‘lifeline’ for businesses

In the months since the program’s inception, John Tayer, president and CEO of the Boulder Chamber, said he’s received “significantly positive response from folks” involved in the program. Tayer described it as a “lifeline” for a number of businesses.

“What we know is that vaccination is the best way to prevent the spread of this disease,” Tayer said. “For our businesses we know that having the flexibility to provide a safe environment — where everybody in the facility is vaccine verified — is something that has been welcomed by customers and employees.”

Protests against vaccine passports

On Dec. 4, there were two Boulder County protests to speak out against “vaccine passports.” On that day, a group of roughly 50 protesters rallied at the Boulder County Fairgrounds to protest the Winter Market’s requirement that people 12 and older be vaccinated to enter.

The market was not part of the county’s verification program. Instead, due to a state public health order that mandates people at events of more than 500 prove their vaccination status, vaccination was required to attend the event.

Some of those protesting the Longmont event entered the building anyway.

In Boulder, a group of roughly 200 protesters rallied outside Gov. Jared Polis’ condominium to protest vaccine passports and the state public health order. The group circled the block several times before marching through downtown.

A rock and a hard place

In Longmont, Climbing Collective co-founder and CEO Bryan Hylenski said he lost customers when the mask mandate was reinstated in Boulder County but not in neighboring counties. He said that in September, when the mandate went into effect, the climbing gym’s revenue dropped close to 30%.

Daniel Trevino, of Erie, climbs at the Longmont Climbing Collective on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022. The LCC has been approved for Boulder County’s optional vaccine verification program, which allows businesses to opt out of mask orders if at least 95% of all people indoors are vaccinated. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

“People were telling us they could go to Broomfield; they could go to Fort Collins; they could go to northern Denver and Thornton — all of those places are 30-plus minutes away, and we’re 10 minutes away, but it was worth it to them to work out without a mask on,” Hylenski said.

He said most of those customers were vaccinated but were frustrated they still had to wear a mask. With roughly 30% of the county still not fully vaccinated, the situation put the business in a tough position.

Initially, Hylenski’s understanding of the vaccine verification program was that it applied to all of the facility or none. When he learned there was a hybrid model of the vaccine verification program allowing for verification at some times and being open to anyone at other times, he thought that made the most sense.

“We couldn’t do the whole facility (for the program) and so that was frustrating, because so many other counties were letting people come in and out without masks, and they didn’t have these options of vaccine verification,” Hylenski said.

The Climbing Collective, at 33 S. Pratt Parkway, received its vaccine verification approval Jan. 5. But with the spread of the contagious omicron COVID-19 variant, Hylenski said the Climbing Collective plans to delay the program until at least February. When enacted, the program will offer vaccine verified hours from 7 to 10 a.m. and 8 to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday. At all other times, masks will be required.

“Other gyms are doing it, which hopefully will help us compete with gyms in other counties that don’t have masks at all,” Hylenski said. “The long-term goal of this program would be to extend the hours and learn how large that population is. Because, getting people’s opinion on this topic, especially when things change every month, is hard to nail down.”

The day the music thrived

Not all musicians can play their instrument while wearing a mask. For the roughly 30 wind and brass players of the Longmont Symphony Orchestra, mask mandates meant they couldn’t make music.

Catherine Beeson, Longmont Symphony Orchestra executive director, said the nonprofit applied to the vaccine verification program in September so musicians could return to the stage. The nonprofit was approved for the program in October, just in time for the Longmont Symphony Orchestra’s earliest fall season performances.

Maddie Levinson, Longmont Symphony horn player, is pictured in December. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

“The masking is really about the wind and brass instruments, because we can’t perform without them,” Beeson said. “The Longmont Symphony Orchestra is a full orchestra with all the instruments. For us to proceed as intended, we needed to make sure we could have that permission to do it.”

Vaccine verification and masking is required for anyone who attends Longmont Symphony Orchestra performances. Each of the performances can also be viewed online.

“There is no 100% safety. There is only safer practice. We wanted to create that sense of security that we are doing the best we can,” Beeson said.

At the Nomad Playhouse in Boulder, a dance production called “Grace,” a coproduction with Wild Heart Dance, finally got its moment on stage in September, thanks to the vaccine verification program.

Catherine Barricklow, the artistic producer and production manager, said the theater, at 1410 Quince Ave., signed up for the program as soon as it was available. The dance production, originally scheduled for April 2020, had been postponed three times, until the program made it possible to deliver on stage.

“(The program) truly allows for the art to be able to continue in a way where it’s intact and following the vision of the artist who created it,” Barricklow said. “There are truly things that can’t happen in the performance world with masks on. (The program) is one of those things that allows us to continue in an uncertain time.”

It has since given actors and dancers the chance to be together again on stage. For set designers and technical workers, who are doing physically demanding work such as hanging lights and building sets, it allowed them to remove their masks and feel safer.

Like the Longmont Symphony Orchestra, Barricklow said, audience members must prove vaccination and are still asked to wear masks.

“That’s an extra level of precaution that we as a theater are putting in place,” Barricklow said. “We are largely following the example of what we’re seeing in professional theaters around the country, New York and Broadway.”

There was some adjustment for audience members when the program was put into place. While Barricklow said the theater did its best to notify people they needed proof of vaccination, not everyone got the message in time.

There was some adjustment in early shows after the verification program started, when people weren’t as much in the habit of proving their vaccination with their vaccine card or an easily accessible photo on their phone.

Five productions later, Barricklow said, “We haven’t seen any further trouble with it.”

For the Longmont Symphony Orchestra, Beeson called opting into the verification program “necessary.”

“We feel very, very lucky to be performing in a safe environment now,” Beeson said. “It’s interesting how all of us are trying to find our way forward as the pandemic does whatever it does. We can’t control the virus, but we can control some of our behaviors.”

How to sign up

Businesses that want to become vaccine verified can fill out an application on the county’s website at bit.ly/3A1Rfwb.

, For Boulder County businesses, vaccine verification largely a ‘lifel… , Kelsey Hammon , 2022-01-16 16:00:12 , Boulder Daily Camera , https://www.dailycamera.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/DCC-L-VACCINE_MJ29652.jpg?w=1400px&strip=all , https://www.dailycamera.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/DCC-L-VACCINE_MJ29652.jpg?w=1024&h=666 , [rule_{ruleNumber}] , [rule_{ruleNumber}_plain] , , , https://www.dailycamera.com/2022/01/16/for-boulder-county-businesses-vaccine-verification-largely-a-lifeline/ , https://www.dailycamera.com/2022/01/16/for-boulder-county-businesses-vaccine-verification-largely-a-lifeline/ , www.dailycamera.com , https%3A%2F%2Fwww.dailycamera.com%2F2022%2F01%2F16%2Ffor-boulder-county-businesses-vaccine-verification-largely-a-lifeline%2F , Latest Headlines,Local News,News,Coronavirus, #Boulder #County #businesses #vaccine #verification #largely #lifel