Gov. Jared Polis issues statewide stay-at-home order in Colorado

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DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis on Wednesday said he will issue a statewide stay-at-home order, effective 6 a.m. Thursday through April 11.

Polis said all of the state’s more than 5,700,000 residents should only interact with people in their own households and should only leave their homes for essentials, such as groceries and medical care. Businesses deemed “critical” will be exempt from the order but will still be required to take social distancing measures.

Polis said adhering to the order will “save the lives of countless Coloradans.”

“Now is the time to stay at home,” Polis said. “You have the chance to be a hero and save thousands of lives by staying at home. The lives of many Coloradans … hinges on your ability to be able to stay at home for the next couple weeks to the most of your ability … Now is not the time to die, and I will not let it happen on our watch.”

Polis’ order Wednesday followed similar measures in seven other counties across the Denver metro, including Denver and the Tri-County Health Department, which covers Douglas, Adams and Arapahoe counties. Several counties in the high country have also issued similar orders.

Polis acknowledged some of the confusion that arose when it came to having a stay-at-home order in one jurisdiction and not having one in another. He said he hopes the statewide order clears up the issue.

“What we want to say, unambiguously, is ‘stay home’ for every Coloradan, to save lives,” Polis said.

State officials Wednesday announced 174 new coronavirus cases in Colorado, bringing the statewide total to 1,086. The number of coronavirus deaths also jumped by 8, to 19 total, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Dining at bars and restaurants, as well as nail and hair salons and tattoo parlors, were shut down across Colorado last week. Polis said officials had “real data” to show that social distancing, to this point, has had a positive effect on reducing the spread of the virus. But Polis on Wednesday said further action to increase social distancing is necessary to help hospitals handle the surge of coronavirus patients expected in the coming weeks.

“The more time Coloradans can spend at home, the more time it buys us to get the beds [and other medical supplies] we need,” Polis said. “It’s space, it’s equipment, it’s personnel. We need time for all of those. This order buys us the time we need to save lives in our state and slow the spread of the virus.”

Polis said Coloradans should not be afraid of the stay-at-home order.

“We are going to get through this together,” Polis said. “We want to get through this sooner rather than later … All we’re asking is for you to stay at home to the extent you can for the next couple weeks, to buy us the time we need. It’s not too late to act now to save lives.”

When asked how or if the state would enforce the order, Polis said he was appealing to Coloradans to do the right thing.

“We’re asking you to [stay home] to save lives and because it’s the law of Colorado, please stay home,” he said.

Polis on Wednesday also expressed disappointment with the lack available testing supplies in Colorado.

“This is so frustrating,” he said, “because the only real way we can address virus, to return to normal, is what South Korea has done and what Taiwan has done. And what we need to do here ASAP. And that’s scaling up testing.”

Critical workplaces are exempt from the statewide mandate and include:

  • Health care operations.
  • Critical infrastructure, including utilities, fuel supply and transmission, public water, telecommunications, transportation, hotels, and food supply chain.
  • Critical manufacturing, including food, beverages, chemicals, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, sanitary products and agriculture.
  • Critical retail, including grocery stores, liquor stores, farms, gas stations, restaurants and bars for takeout, marijuana dispensaries but only for medical or curbside delivery, hardware stores.
  • Critical services, including trash and recycling, mail, shipping, laundromats, child care, building cleaning and maintenance, auto supply and repair, warehouses/distribution, funeral services, and animal shelters.
  • News media.
  • Financial institutions.
  • Providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations.
  • Construction.
  • Defense.
  • Public safety services like police and fire.
  • Vendors that provide critical services to the workplaces above.