Hassler questions mandates of County during pandemic

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Dear Editor,
I received an email from the “Business Emergency Response Team,” organized under “Work In Grand,” about the Grand County Public Health Department’s order entered on Monday. That order has an effective date of “immediately,” but was not publicized on the internet until after close of business on Monday, April 27.

The Business Emergency Response Team email asserts, “This Order closely mirrors Governor Polis’ ‘Safer-At-Home’ Order that went into effect yesterday as well.” It is a far departure from the State’s approach to reopening business. The County’s citizens would have been far ahead had the County simply adopted the State’s approach.

For example (as reported in the same email), “As part of the reopening process, each business must complete and submit a “COVID-19 Compliance Verification Form” to Grand County Public Health. If all of the criteria are met, an approval message will be displayed automatically along with materials that businesses will need to print and display on site.”

On the County website, this “Compliance Verification Form” is a 6-page document to be completed by all businesses, whether the business is operating, has employees, has customers, handles merchandise,
or, apparently, if it has none of these elements. Once completed and submitted, if answers are satisfactory to some unidentified standard, as judged by some unidentified reviewer, then Grand County Public Health will bless you with permission to conduct your business (as long as you post the signs that accompany your permission slip). There is no such form or requirement in the Colorado Department of Health
and Environment’s 34-page order for general essential and non-essential business. This form is
the most egregious departure from the State’s approach.

Within the County’s various orders, there are a number of other items not “closely mirror(ing)” the State orders. The local orders do not distinguish among businesses (e.g., critical, non-critical, personal services, retail, field), or use phasing, as do the State mandates. Instead, the local order seeks to regulate businesses in ways the State never attempted.

In the non-business arena, the State’s Public Health Order encourages recreating within ten miles of your home, while the County order attempts to mandate recreation only within ten miles of your home. The local order mandates mask usage where the State leaves it up to the situation, and the employer, employee, customer and others’ discretion. I am appalled that the citizens of Grand County are deemed so untrustworthy by the government of Grand County.

In closing, I do encourage everyone, on your own, to take necessary steps to assure the safety of yourself and others. I also ask that you consider what this heavy-handed approach to governance says about the officials making and supporting these rules, and the overt lack of trust demonstrated. I am shocked the State took a more common sense approach than the County government.
Alan N. Hassler