Many outdoor holiday events and cultural programs meant to lift spirits during this dark time of year will go on as planned, despite Gov. Jared Polis’ announcement of new Level Red coronavirus restrictions for Colorado on Tuesday.

“It’s a horrible choice,” Polis said during an afternoon press conference, referencing the “balance” officials are trying to find by issuing county-by-county threat levels but stopping just short of a statewide stay-at-home order.

Polis, followed by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, described an “exponential growth” phase of coronavirus infections. But the lack of immediate details left some programmers of necessarily indoor experiences — museum exhibitions, mostly — with more questions than answers.

Level Red means no indoor, seated events, no new applications for outdoor variances (which have been given to institutions like Denver Botanic Gardens and Denver Zoo), and a 25% cap on outdoor event capacity, depending on the size of the space (or about 75 people per event), according to the Colorado Department of Health.

Denver Museum of Nature & Science officials did not have an immediate response to the effect that Level Red restrictions would have on “The Art of the Brick” Lego exhibition, for example, given the lack of clarity in the updated COVID-19 dial, a spokeswoman said. At press time they were working with the mayor’s office to answer their questions.

Others, such as Civic Center’s Christkindl Market, were planning to debut on Friday, Nov. 20 — the same day that the new, Level Red restrictions are set to take effect in Denver. Representatives for that event did not not respond to requests for comment.

A spokeswoman for Fetch Markets — which is producing Cherry Creek North’s Winter Wanderland holiday craft market — said the new restrictions will not affect its hours or capacity, since they were taken into account when planning the 75-person-capacity market spaces.

Denver Zoo’s wildly popular Zoo Lights, which opens its 30th anniversary season on Nov. 23, had been built for just such an announcement. The 80-acre City Park complex went into a “safer at home” stage a few weeks ago, said spokesman Jake Kubie, with Level Red-type restrictions and capacity variances already in place.

“Denver Zoo remains open to the public, vigilantly implementing and enforcing the extensive health and safety measures that have been in place since we reopened in June,” Kubie wrote via email. “We are frequently in touch with state and city health officials, and will make adjustments as needed to do our part to protect the community from the spread of COVID-19 and comply with any new regulations and recommendations.”

Guests with previously purchased tickets to Zoo Lights can still stroll around outdoors and snap virtual greeting cards. Per the Zoo’s variance, they’re able to allow 50% of normal capacity, which translates to no more than 700 people per hour.

“However, we rarely reach that level of attendance during the daytime this time of year and have proactively limited available tickets by 50% during peak times/days to help further spread out guests in the Zoo at any given hour,” Kubie said.

Denver Botanic Gardens, which opens its Blossoms of Light outdoor display on Nov. 20, is also not making any changes to its current plan, which took into account Level Red restrictions.

“Blossoms of Light and Trail of Lights (at the Chatfield Farms location) have reduced capacity, timed tickets, touch-free entry, no interactive features, and mask and social distancing requirements to ensure a safe experience at the Gardens,” said a spokeswoman. “The only indoor access is for restrooms. There are no further changes at this time.”

Blossoms of Light capacity is 2,250 per night, she added, spread out across Denver Botanic Gardens’ 24 acres at its York Street location in Denver. Timed entry is every 30 minutes.

Until a stay-at-home order arrives, some museums will continue to operate as they have in recent weeks. Without one, ticketed events are still on, said History Colorado Center spokesman John Eding.

“If a stay-at-home order is enacted, members of our Guest Services team will reach out to ticket holders individually to issue a refund, or work with them to either hold or reschedule the reservation as desired,” he said. “Right now the History Colorado Center and the Center for Colorado Women’s History in Denver are our only museums selling advance tickets, so this is still a manageable task in the event of a statewide stay-at-home order.”

Representatives from the Denver Art Museum, which is still selling tickets to its popular Frida Khalo exhibition through Jan. 24, 2021, were not immediately available for comment.

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