WELD COUNTY, Colo. — Despite being one of the numerous Colorado counties that has been placed on the second-most serious level of the state’s COVID-19 dial, the Weld County Board of Commissioners issued a statement Friday saying they will not enforce the newest restrictions.
“Instead, county government continues to do what it has done since March, which is promote and encourage residents and business owners to take individual responsibility and make decisions to protect themselves, their families, their community and their businesses,” the statement reads.
The state announced Thursday that Weld County will be moved to what’s known as the “red level” starting Sunday. Under these new restrictions, indoor dining in restaurants is supposed to be closed and gyms can stay open albeit at a 10% capacity. Restaurants can continue to serve takeout and delivery as well as seat people outside.
> Watch the video above for a previous 9NEWS story about a Weld County commissioner challenging the state's newest COVID-19 restrictions.
People are also encouraged to avoid any gatherings outside of their households, and capacity is limited at places like churches.
Weld County’s two-week positivity rate is 16.5%, according to state data. This is well above the 5% threshold recommended by the World Health Organization for keeping the novel coronavirus under control.
“The county will not enforce a rule confining individuals to their homes for an undetermined length of time; the county will not enforce a rule that states residents cannot have personal gatherings; the county will not tell the school districts how to provide education to their students; the county will not enforce a rule requiring a reduction of attendees in places of worship; the county will not enforce a rule demanding restaurants close their indoor dining areas; the county will not enforce any rule that forces a business to shut down or impedes their ability to operate,” the statement from Weld County’s Commissioners reads.
On Monday night, Next with Kyle Clark emailed the state public health department and the governor's office to find out what happens, not only if a county doesn't follow the restrictions based on the dial dashboard, but doesn't choose to enforce it. This was the reply:
“Enforcement always starts with county collaboration, voluntary compliance, and education. Under Colorado law, CDPHE, the local public health agency, and the district attorney have the authority to enforce an order. If a county is unable or unwilling to enforce an order, the Colorado Attorney General, at the request of and representing CDPHE, can seek a judge’s order in state court to require a person or business to immediately comply with an order. A district attorney can also work with them to do so. CDPHE may also withhold funding from a county that does not comply with executive or public health orders.”
Earlier this year, Weld County’s commissioners and the sheriff said they would not enforce the statewide mask mandate.
Weld County is one of more than a dozen Colorado counties that have faced increased restrictions due to a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases around the state.
Metro Denver counties will move to level red on the dial starting on Friday, and the Denver Broncos will no longer allow fans at games after this weekend.
This comes ahead of Thanksgiving week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it strongly discourages travel and traditional in-person gatherings, a message that has been echoed by Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) and other state health officials.
The red level of the COVID-19 dial is one step above a stay-at-home order, which is now level purple. Its restrictions were added to the state's system this week as part of an effort to prevent the economic impacts of a full lockdown.