State relaxes COVID-19 restrictions

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Photo Source: Colorado Department of Human Services
Photo Source: Colorado Department of Human Services

By Anastasia Button

On April 26, 2020, Colorado Governor Polis issued a new COVID-19 related Executive Order, Safer at Home, holding a press conference to address the public and answer questions. A recording can be found on YouTube. 

Highlights from Polis included the following. “Colorado has been doing a great job following the Stay-at-Home order, and we must keep it up.” “The virus is still present in Colorado and can re-surge at any time. Everyone needs to do their part for themselves, their loved ones, and our community.” “We have a responsibility to ourselves and to each other to protect our state and our community.”

Business Timeline

The governor addressed partial openings of retail and group meetings, providing a timeline for economic resumption.

Monday, April 27: 

Retail businesses can open for curbside delivery. Real estate home showings can resume. Voluntary or elective medical, dental, and veterinary surgeries and procedures may resume if facilities are following required safety protocols. 

Friday, May 1: 

Personal services and retail businesses can phase-in a public opening if they are implementing best practices. 

Monday, May 4: 

Offices can reopen at 50% reduced in-person staffing capacity if best practices are being implemented to protect the health and safety of employees. Businesses are encouraged to allow employees to continue telecommuting at higher levels if possible. Child care facilities can also expand or reopen if they are following Safer at Home requirements. 

Prohibit public gatherings of ten (10) persons or more in both public spaces and private commercial venues. 

Campgrounds, bars, restaurants (except take-out and delivery), casinos, and other “socializing businesses” are still closed as they risk groups of 10 or more and/or unable to maintain high standards of social distancing and sanitation for shared bathrooms, etc. These businesses are still at risk and Polis hopes that relaxed orders will come at the end of May or early June 2020. 

During the press conference, Gov. Polis listed many resources and methods employees who are returning to a safe working environment can access childcare; and how employers can find detailed guidelines on continuing social distancing, telecommunication, and navigating vulnerable populations. It is illegal to force vulnerable persons back to work on business locations unless telecommunication alternatives are in place.

The Executive Order is tentatively set to expire 30 days from April 27, 2020, but can be amended or extended at any time. To better understand how to navigate their workforce options, businesses can find guidelines and steps listed at ColoradoSaferAtHome.com

Local variances possible but violations risky

The executive order does allow counties to apply for a variance or exemption from all or part of the State mandates.  “Local governments can relax guidelines more than the State. To do so, local governments will need to demonstrate proof of 14 consecutive days of decline of infection of COVID-19 in the county. They also must submit an application to CDPHE that includes a written COVID-19 suppression plan approved by the appropriate local public health authority, all hospitals within the jurisdiction, and elected leadership.”

If businesses and organizations do not follow the executive orders they are at risk of potentially losing their license to operate. Polis expressed how local law enforcement and health agencies do not have enough support to enforce orders among residential populations. Polis encouraged residents to #DoTheirPart by wearing masks, keeping social distance, and for concerned residents, they have the option to file a report with the Attorney General’s Office [email protected] if businesses are operating against social safety. 

Gov. Polis’ last remark to Colorado residents was to give thanks to all efforts made during the stay-at-home orders, and also to “Make sure you are taking the steps you can to protect yourself and others. Cases and deaths could continue to increase… nobody wants that. We all need to do our best to be able to practice social distancing while we are out because no one wants to go back to where we were.”

Resources for Safer-at-Home 

Polis’ full address about Safer-at-Home can be viewed on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5TSnO-Yyrk.

The full order and all other recent guidelines can be found on the Grand County website at co.grand.co.us/saferathome.

As a quick reference, the following framework is being used by the State of Colorado to move between levels of social distancing. 

Stay-at-HomeSafer-at-HomeProtect Your Neighbor
● Widespread suppression is required to stem exponential disease transmission

● People are staying at home with limited exceptions

●Healthcare/hospital capacity is still limited

● Testing availability and containment capacity is still being built

● People are encouraged to not travel between counties except for work or to obtain necessary services
● Disease has been suppressed and hospital capacity is not threatened.

● Health care capacity is increasing

● Testing availability and containment capacity are increasing

● Most people still stay at home as much as possible and avoid unnecessary social interactions

● Vulnerable populations stay home with limited exceptions

● People are encouraged not to travel between counties except for work or to obtain necessary services

● Public health has an early warning system to detect a significant increase in cases or greater demand for medical care
● Disease transmission is low

● Healthcare capacity is robust

● Testing availability and containment capacity are working at scale

● It’s safer for people to socialize more normally, while taking significant precautions

● Strong protections for vulnerable populations are still needed

● Public health has an early warning system in place to detect a significant increase incases or greater demand for medical care