CHATTANOOGA, Tenn – Businesses that have been hardest hit by novel coronavirus restrictions could find some relief in the form of Colorado’s new Five Star Certification program.

The program allows businesses that demonstrate a commitment to COVID-19 guidelines to apply for a variance, which would allow for them to operate with looser restrictions than the current level allows.

To apply for the program, businesses will be able to submit a written plan detailing how they are implementing or exceeding state and local prevention guidelines and how they will ensure compliance and enforcement, similar to the physical-distancing protocol form that Summit County businesses already are required to complete.

Mesa County piloted the program in July. Since then, over 200 Mesa County businesses have applied, according to the Grand Junction Sentinel. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is now looking to implement the program across the state.

According to the state’s draft framework, counties in levels blue through orange will be able to use the program. Through Dec. 11, the state will be reviewing two weeks of data from Mesa County to see how the program impacts counties in level red.

Based on those results and feedback from the community, the state will finalize the framework for the new program by Dec. 14, according to the plan.

Public health officials have maintained that restaurants and bars generate spread of the virus.

“It’s clear when you do tracing about where you get these kinds of outbreaks it’s bars (and) indoor seating at a restaurant — particularly at full capacity,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s lead infectious disease expert, said at a news conference with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday, Dec. 1.