Gov. Jared Polis said Monday that Colorado is counting on its residents to make the new “safer-at-home” response to the new coronavirus work as restrictions on people’s movement begin to lift this week.
And if they don’t — and the disease begins to spread out of control — the state would consider imposing severe restrictions, including reinstating the statewide stay-at-home order, he said.
“If we slack off, if Coloradans let up, if less people are wearing masks when they are in public, if stores aren’t being careful and personal services aren’t being careful about following the guidelines that we put out today, then it’s likely that additional restrictions might have to come back,” Polis said. “Our gains will be lost. This great sacrifice that Coloradans have made will have been for nothing if we can’t continue and maintain the social distancing needed.”
The governor said his staff will be watching infection rates and hospitalizations closely to ensure that COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, stays manageable.
“We’re going to be watching the data every single day,” Polis said at a briefing with reporters in the Colorado Capitol. “If the numbers begin to climb at an unsustainable rate, then we’re likely to have to go backwards rather than forward. It’s really up to the individual choices, the informed decision the people of Colorado make.”
Polis’ statewide stay-at-home order expired on Sunday and a safer-at-home period began on Monday. Retail businesses, salons, tattoo parlors and offices can begin to reopen, with social distancing precautions, over the next week.
About half of the state’s population will remain under a stay-at-home order until at least May 8, however, after officials in Denver, Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield and Jefferson counties said it was too soon to drop the most severe restrictions.
Polis has been adamant that Coloradans should continue to stay in their homes as much as possible. His safer-at-home period relies on a careful balance of social distancing adherence, mask wearing, testing and infection-tracing to prevent Colorado’s health care system from being overwhelmed.
“We’re nowhere near being back to normal,” he said.
And the governor said Coloradans should expect more enforcement during this safer-at-home phase that there was during the stay-at-home order.
“Enforcement,” he said of the safer-at-home period, “is absolutely critical.”
Businesses that don’t comply with the safer-at-home directive will be sent a cease-and-desist letter from the state and may lose their license to operate. Counties and cities that don’t abide by the order will lose their emergency preparedness grants, Polis says.
For businesses to reopen, they must have social distancing and cleaning measures in place. That includes:
- Installing decals on the floor showing customers how far to stand from other patrons
- Ensuring their workers have masks and gloves
- Posting signage about personal hygiene
- Conducting daily temperature checks and monitoring symptoms of employees
- Ensuring employees can take frequent breaks to wash their hands
- Increasing ventilation
Businesses that offer personal services that require workers to get close to patrons — such as hair and nail salons, tattoo parlors and personal trainers — are encouraged to take additional measures. That includes monitoring symptoms in their customers, accepting clients only by appointment and barring walk-in patrons, and keeping a list of customers and their contact information so that if someone does become ill, infection-tracing can be easily implemented.
Polis said people should report businesses that are not following best practices to their local public health officials and the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.
“We know that the people of Colorado will tell us if there’s a store that’s not implementing social distancing,” Polis said.
Polis said that through Monday there have been at least 707 deaths related to coronavirus and more than 13,800 confirmed and probable cases.