DENVER (KKTV) - Monday marks the start of a new stage in Colorado's fight against the COVID-19 virus.
Photo: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Scroll to bottom of article to view larger photo.
Watch what Gov. Jared Polis had to say about the new "Safer At Home" order below:
The governor's office is hoping to clear up any confusion for business owners and residents across the state with a new website. Click here for the safer at home website. The website covers a variety of questions and provides resources for a number of business owners.
For a month, Coloradans have been under a stay-at-home order. With the expiration of that order Sunday night, the state is now transitioning a slightly less stringent phase, "Safer at Home." "Slightly" being the key word here: Gov. Jared Polis has made clear much of what the state has been doing to weather the coronavirus pandemic must continue. That includes wearing masks in public, working from home if possible, remaining home as much as possible, and continuing social distancing practices.
"This will not work if this is going from 75 percent of people to 25 percent of people wearing masks," he said during a news conference last week in response to a question about people letting their guard down once stay-at-home order expired. "If anything, this should increase our mask-wearing culture. As we trust people more, the number of people who wear masks at grocery stores, out and about needs to go up for this [phasing out of the stay-at-home order] to work."
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers put the choice plainly to citizens in an interview last week.
"Two things can happen. We manage the second phase well and we move onto the next phase where we can open up restaurants and things like that. Or, if we regress too much, as the governor said, we could have to reimpose the stay-at-home order."
What does 'Safer at Home' mean?
"Safer at Home is by no means a free-for-all," Polis said in a news release Sunday shortly after officially issuing the executive order.
"Together, Coloradans have been effective in leveling and flattening the curve, but life will remain much more dangerous than usual these next few months and we should all wear masks when in public. ... My administration has acted boldly in the face of this pandemic and is focused on ensuring our state can endure on the trail ahead. We all have a personal responsibility to slow the spread of the virus and must find a way of living that is psychologically and economically sustainable for Coloradans.
"The Safer at Home executive order ... outlines a new level in Colorado’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes a more sustainable way of living for Coloradans while slowing the spread of the virus and allowing more Coloradans to return to work."
How does it work and how long will it last?
The order is set to expire 30 days from April 27 but could be shortened or lengthened depending on whether Colorado is seeing progress or seeing an uptick in new COVID-19 cases.
During the next 30 days, many places closed since March will reopen to some extent, but the changes will be rolled out gradually. The following are key dates under the Safer at Home order:
Monday, April 27
This is the date the order begins. Non-critical retail businesses may open for curbside, window, walk-up or similar service, but customers will not be allowed onto the premises. Voluntary or elective medical, dental, and veterinary surgeries and procedures may resume if facilities are following required safety protocols. Real estate home showings can start back up.
Friday, May 1
Non-critical retail businesses may now allow customers into the store, as long as the strict social distancing practices and sanitizing measures are implemented.
One on one services such as haircuts, dog grooming and personal training can resume.
"So, people say this. Why salons, not restaurants? We get that people are touching other people in salons. These are one on one services. Restaurants, 30, 40, 50 people depending on how big it is. Bars, even more. ... When you have 50-60 people in an enclosed area, it's a very different risk to everybody than one on one services. So this first round is one on one services," Polis said when explaining why restaurants would remain take-out only at the start of the Safer at Home order.
Monday, May 4
Offices can reopen, but at least 50 percent of employees should continue working from home. Offices are encouraged to put symptom-monitoring protocols in place, such as temperature checks. Polis encourages any businesses that can remain closed to do so.
"That's wonderful if you're able to not go back May 4. You should do that as an employer. Not every business can. Some can't exist if they can't go back in early May. People rely on those paychecks. But for businesses that don't have to go back May 4, you shouldn't go back May 4. Telecommute, stay home, stay safe. 'Safer at Home' means some businesses will have to go back, and many employees have to earn a paycheck. It's an economic necessity for people. People simply can't make their rent if they don't have income, businesses will have no jobs. It's an opportunity to come back; in no way is it a mandate to go back."
Child care facilities can expand or reopen if they are following Safer at Home requirements.
Mid to late May
Depending on how the first couple of weeks under the new order go, there is a possibility of restaurants and bars reopening. This is far from a certainty.
What remains the same under "Safer at Home"?
Gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited. Large sporting events are still called off. Gyms, theaters, nightclubs and spas will all remain closed.
Schools will continue with distance learning for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
Social distancing practices must continue, as should mask-wearing. Mandates for those employees told to wear masks remain in place.
Going out with friends should still wait: Coloradans are encouraged to restrict social interactions to those in their own households.
Now is still not the time to travel outside your community for recreation, etc.
Those 60 and older, as well as those more vulnerable to the virus, are to remain under a stay-at-home order. Polis advised these citizens that their May will look exactly like their April did.
Does every Colorado community have to abide by this timeline?
No. Communities can implement things at their own pace, as long as it's not ahead of the state timeline. Denver is extending its stay-at-home order through May 8. El Paso and Pueblo counties are currently following the state timeline.
In the cities with stricter orders than the state, the municipal order is the one local citizens and businesses must follow.
View the full executive order by clicking here.