[Update April 23 at 6:55 p.m.: The City and County of Denver’s stay-at-home order was extended to May 8. Mayor Hancock will hold a press conference tomorrow, April 24 at 10 a.m. to provide more details. Currently, Colorado’s stay-at-home order is still scheduled to end April 27.]
Next week, Colorado will enter into a new phase of its coronavirus measures. Dubbed “Safer at Home,” Governor Jared Polis outlined, in a press conference on April 22, how the state will transition from the current stay-at-home order into the new directive. Despite many misconceptions, this does not mean a return to normal. Polis, who has a penchant for analogies, likens it to a ski slope, explaining the stay-at-home order was more like the bunny hill and now we’re moving onto an easy green run.
To clarify the differences, we’ve parsed out what you need to know.
- The stay-at-home order for Colorado lasts through Sunday, April 26 meaning it officially ends on Monday, April 27. Although for businesses, this will happen in phases (see business section.)
- If you live in Denver, the stay-at-home order lasts until May 8 (as of late on April 23) and presumably, Denver county residents should follow the order until then.
- Both the mayor and governor have previously said that Denver’s stay-at-home order is different due to the higher density of Denver county.
- Polis said there will be flexibility for local governments to tailor policies based on their areas as long as it meets basic standards set by the state.
- In his press conference, Polis explained that he has come to his decision to lift the stay-at-home order after modeling showed that two additional weeks of the order would not reduce the peak number of cases, rather it would only delay it. The exact modeling Polis is referring to has not yet been released.
For the General Public
- At-risk populations should still follow the stay-at-home order guidelines and keep contact at a minimum. According to Polis, your “May should look a lot like your April” for these populations.
- All public gatherings above 10 people are banned and Polis encourages people to keep social interaction to a minimum.
- Mask wearing and social distancing are still important and heavily encouraged for all public outings.
- Elective surgeries can resume
- K-12 schools will remain closed for the school year
- Polis encourages people to stay at home as much as possible and discourages unnecessary travel and interactions including mountain travel, parties, neighborhood barbecues, family get-togethers, pick-up soccer games, etc.
- Travel should be no more than 10 miles from your home
- Restaurants, bars, clubs, gyms and spas will remain closed until further notice. Polis said it’s possible they may re-open in mid-May, but Mayor Hancock recently said it’s likely they’ll extend the closure past its current May 11 deadline for Denver county.
- For businesses, the lifting of the stay-at-home order will be phased over several days.
- On May 1, retail businesses can open back up to the public with strict precautions. They can start curbside services as early as April 27, though.
- Personal service businesses such as salons, dog groomers, personal training and dental offices can also re-open with strict precautions.
- Polis’ reasoning is that these are “one-on-one” businesses and therefore less likely to cause mass spreading like high-density businesses (such as restaurants, gyms and clubs)
- Although exact guidelines for strict precautions for businesses have not yet been issued, Polis mentioned mandatory mask-wearing, social distancing where possible, strict handwashing regulations and other hygiene regulations as well as keeping windows open. For mid to large size businesses, Polis urged symptom monitoring programs (presumably temperature taking.)
- On May 4, 50% of the workforce can return to the workplace, but Polis encourages businesses to allow as many people to work from home as possible.”It’s an opportunity to go back [to work], not a mandate,” he said.
- Polis explained he will enforce the 50% workforce rule and asked local mayors to do so as well. He encouraged people to report any businesses not complying and suggested people tweet at him directly.
Polis outlined plans for the future and how they aim to prevent future outbreaks. His current strategy involves a high level of public participation including the majority of the population still practicing social distancing and mask-wearing. This will be paired with increased testing and strict case isolation. Polis explained that this portion will be aided by 300,000 new testing kits and swabs that will arrive by mid-May and more anti-body testing with the help of the Gary Community Foundation. However, Polis was adamant that all these efforts must be combined, including high public participation, for their plan to work.
Stay tuned as we will update this article as more information becomes available.