COLORADO, USA — Many counties and cities across Colorado are working to determine how they will begin moving past expiring stay-at-home orders and into the next phase of the fight to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The safer-at-home plan allows non-essential businesses to gradually reopen with strict guidelines in place.
The statewide stay-at-home order officially expired on April 27, which brought incremental changes, such as allowing retail services to begin offering curbside service. Salons and other personal services re-opened with strict protocols Friday. As for restaurants and bars, Polis announced Monday that they will likely remain closed until June.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) outlines the options available to local governments as things move forward:
- Local governments can implement the guidelines of safer-at-home to match the state.
- Local governments can go farther than the state, including but not limited to extended stay-at-home orders or additional protective measures.
- Local governments can relax guidelines more than the state. To do so, they will need to demonstrate proof of 14 consecutive days of a decline in COVID-19 infections 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.
Polis warned that counties that do not comply with the restrictions put in place are at risk of losing state emergency preparedness grants.
Here is how each county is responding to Polis’ guidelines across the state:
(9NEWS will continue to update this list as more information becomes available.)
During a press conference held Tuesday, Mayor Michael Hancock announced the city of Denver will officially transition to a safer-at-home order on May 9 and will follow the same guidelines previously outlined by Polis last week.
Hancock had said last week that he didn't plan to extend the stay-at-home order but officially said Tuesday afternoon that it would be allowed to expire.
That means some places like hair salons, nail salons and retail stores will be allowed to open with strict guidelines in place.
"While we're excited, I want to remind everyone that many establishments will remain closed like restaurants, bars, venues, stadiums and arenas, gyms, indoor malls, playgrounds, tennis, and basketball courts," Hancock said. "As per the state's order, large gatherings above 10 people will stay in effect until May 26th."
The public health order issued by the mayor requiring residents to wear face masks in certain public settings will begin its implementation Wednesday.
Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) announced Tuesday that its extension of the stay-at-home order is set to expire Friday.
Non-essential businesses will begin to re-open with the same restrictions required by Polis’ state’s safer-at-home model.
“Our community has taken the steps needed to help slow the spread of COVID-19 these past few months, and has continued to be diligent about social distancing precautions during the extended stay-at-home period in Jeffco,” said Dr. Mark B. Johnson, MD, MPH, Executive Director, Jefferson County Public Health. “It was not easy for anyone, but progress has been made, especially in these last few weeks.”
According to a press release, the county’s extension of the stay-at-home order improved access to testing and personal protective equipment (PPE). The county promises to have a plan in partnership with the Colorado Volunteer Mobilizer in order to rapidly expand capacity for COVID-19 disease tracking and contact tracing.
Adams and Arapahoe counties
Adams and Arapahoe counties will transition from its extended stay-at-home order to the safer-at-home model after Friday.
“I am grateful for the sacrifices that our community has made to slow the spread of COVID-19 and we must remain vigilant to continue that trend and keep our communities safe while we gradually re-open our businesses,” said John M. Douglas, Jr., MD, Executive Director of Tri-County Health Department.
Arapahoe County and Tri-County Health Department officials are set to co-host a COVID-19 virtual town hall 7 p.m. Thursday, which will update participants on how the county will handle the shift.
The majority of the town hall will be dedicated to answering questions from the audience, giving updates on the status of the virus, and providing guidance around the safer-at-home order.
The town hall can be joined on ArapahoeGov.com/townhall and the County’s Facebook page. Callers can ask questions during the town hall by calling 1-855-436-3656 as early as 7 p.m.
Similarly to Adams and Arapahoe counties, Douglas County is under the jurisdiction of the Tri-County Health Department. Since the county’s COVID-19 cases have leveled off as of late, it will continue to act in compliance with the statewide safer-at-home order.
Boulder County announced that it will let its current extension of the state’s stay-at-home order expire Friday.
Since the extension of stay-at-home, the County claims that access to testing has improved thanks to the free testing and PPE to local hospitals and clinics provided by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). Additionally, the County announced that hospitalizations have remained stable throughout.
“I just want to say ‘thank you' to the entire community for your patience and understanding while the Stay-At-Home Order has been extended here in Boulder County,” said Jeff Zayach, Boulder County Public Health executive director. “I know this extension has been difficult for many people - it was an extremely difficult decision for me. But I’m pleased to report that because of the extension, we’ve made significant progress toward what we set out to do.”
Also beginning Friday is Boulder’s “Facial Covering” order, which requires that every individual aged 12 and older is required to wear a face covering in public where social distancing of six feet cannot be maintained.
Broomfield City and County
After the City and County of Broomfield voted to extend its stay-at-home order until Friday, it is set to transition to a phased re-opening plan on Saturday.
Broomfield will allow for the guided opening of businesses on Saturday for in-person shopping, with public health precautions in place in alignment with the rest of the Denver Metro area.
As a part of Larimer County’s safer-at-home phase, the County announced a public health order requiring face coverings for employees and customers to enter businesses.
According to their website, “All employees who interact with the public or other employees are required to wear face coverings. All individuals entering or in line to enter businesses must cover their nose and mouth by wearing a mask or other form of facial covering. Businesses include but are not limited to schools, recreational facilities, retail businesses, manufacturing, places of worship, and personal service establishments.”
The health order applies to all individuals over 2-years-old.
According to the county’s website, Larimer has flattened the curve and hopes that social distancing paired with the health order will continue the trend.
Huerfano and Las Animas counties
According to a post on the Las Animas-Huerfano Counties District Health Department Facebook page, the counties transitioned to Polis’ safer-at-home order last Friday.
Per the CDPHE’s website, the counties have five confirmed cases as of Tuesday.
On Thursday, April 23, Polis approved a local request from Eagle County to reduce some restrictions of the stay-at-home order early. The county made that request before Polis announced the safer-at-home guidelines set to begin next week.
A release from Eagle County on Friday, April 24 said the county is moving toward a more sustainable social distancing model to open businesses and recreation that are currently restricted.
The primary focus, according to the release, is opening businesses that have not been defined as critical, essential or governmental, while requiring those businesses to implement a social distancing protocol.
Here is a list of changes under the updated public health order, as outlined in the release:
- Allows gatherings of up to 10 people, as long as social distancing requirements are met.
- Allows some outdoor recreational facilities to reopen.
- Restricts short-term lodging operations, except if necessary for an essential service or business, for emergency purposes or for medical care.
- Allows more businesses to open in addition to previously allowed essential businesses, as long as the business can meet the requirements of the order. All businesses must create and visibly post a Social Distancing Protocol, explaining how the business is achieving all social distancing, sanitizing and cleaning, and other requirements.
- Limits travel into or around Eagle County to local residents only. “Local residents” are defined as persons who own, maintain, or live in a home or residence in Eagle County.
As of Monday, Weld County Government buildings reopened to the public.
Additionally, Weld County has ignored statewide public health orders and has adopted a safer-at-work plan that will allow all businesses to open, if they choose to do so, under certain guidelines.
The chairman of Weld County's board of commissioners, Mike Freeman, told 1310 KFKA Radio that the county will not direct businesses to open, but it will provide guidelines for all of them to open if they choose.
“This will be for businesses, in general, to open across the board,” he said. “I think the governor's been pretty clear all along that his orders are unenforceable.”
Freeman also said that this does not mean “business as usual.” The county’s guidelines include limiting groups to 10 people, keeping 6 feet between individuals, and a recommendation for physical barriers.
The county will also consider publishing more industry-specific guidelines for places like restaurants, Freeman told KFKA. He said commissioners will not tell long-term care facilities how to handle visitors, but people should remember that the elderly are considered vulnerable.
Freeman said they had not consulted with Polis or state health officials.
A spokesman for Polis said counties that are out of compliance with public health orders "are in jeopardy of losing state emergency preparedness grants."
On Friday, April 24, the Weld County Board of Commissioners issued the following statement:
Weld County Government is not opening any businesses, just as Weld County Government did not close any businesses. That said, each commissioner has received comments from constituents struggling to make ends meet, pay their bills, and take care of their families who have said they are going to open their businesses.
So, Weld County Government took the proactive response of preparing best practices and guidance that could be used as business owners look to reopen – whenever they feel comfortable to do so. An informed public is a strong public.
The same preventative measures need to be heeded – we’ve said that. Expectations need to be managed – we’re doing that. What we aren’t going to do is pick winners and losers as to who gets to restart their livelihoods.
And at the end of the day, everyone has freedoms: freedom to stay home, freedom to go out, and freedom to support whatever business they want to support.
Officials for the City of Greeley announced Friday, April 24 they are extending the widespread public closures of city facilities until Tuesday, June 2.
A release said city leaders want to get the community and economy back on track safely, and they think the state's safer-at-home plan outlines the best path forward.
“Based on the medical and scientific data, and the high number of cases in Weld County, the City of Greeley strongly supports following the ‘safer-at-home’ philosophy,” said Greeley Mayor John Gates. “This approach protects lives, flattens the curve, and is a step in the right direction for getting our community back to a fully operational economy.”
The release said through June 2, all non-emergency city facilities will remain closed to the public. All city playgrounds, skate parks, restrooms, drinking fountains and athletic fields for any group sports will remain closed.
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