DENVER — Weld County businesses that reopened Monday in defiance of Gov. Jared Polis’ COVID-19 “Safer At Home” guidelines — but in keeping with a contrary directive given last week by the Weld County Board of Commissioners — could still face consequences, state officials said Tuesday, but it remains unclear just what those may look like.
While Polis has pledged to “take whatever steps are necessary” to ensure businesses remain closed until Friday at the earliest, Colorado regulators’ response to rogue counties and companies appears less than aggressive thus far.
“I can’t speak to specific complaints because they are confidential in nature, but at this point under the Safer at Home order we have not issued any actions that are considered public,” Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies executive director Patty Salazar said.
In past statements, state officials have threatened to send cease and desist letters or rescind business licenses for order violators, but skeptics note that such notices would not even reach businesses owners before stay-at-home orders are relaxed on Friday.
“In the event that a letter is received after the fact, businesses still may be required to respond to the state regulator” and could still face business licensing consequences, Salazar said.
Echoing Polis, she added: “We will take all of the appropriate actions necessary to ensure compliance.”
But so far, that action appears to be limited to pleading with the business community and public for cooperation.
Salazar asked residents to “contact the state if they are witnessing offices or businesses in violation of the public health order… This will help make sure we are maximizing compliance across the board.”
Officials did not answer questions Tuesday about the state’s ability to compel county health departments to cite non-compliant businesses.
When asked Tuesday whether Weld County had received any communications from the state in regard to compulsory citations, a county spokesperson said “the county has not received any such information.”
“We really want to stress the need for voluntary compliance here. We are in this together as a state,” said Scott Bookman, who is managing the Colorado Department of Public Health’s coronavirus response. “We need to take care of our neighbors and take care of our friends. We all need to do the right thing. We’re early in this pandemic and have a long way to go.”
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