Colorado governor issues order to reduce in-person workforce of noncritical workplaces by 50%, asks people to limit movement in public |

Colorado governor issues order to reduce in-person workforce of noncritical workplaces by 50%, asks people to limit movement in public

Taylor Sienkiewicz
Summit Daily
Gov. Jared Polis speaks during a press conference to address the first confirmed case of coronavirus in Colorado at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on Thursday, March 5, 2020. Gov. Jared Polis said the first confirmed individual is a man in his 30s, who traveled to Italy last month and was recreating in Colorado. Polis added that the man's girlfriend, who was traveling with him has been quarantined. A second case was reported during the press conference, but no information was provided by Polis or the officials flanking him. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

Gov. Jared Polis has issued an executive order that requires noncritical workplaces in Colorado to reduce their in-person workforce by 50%. The executive order will take effect at 8 a.m. Tuesday and continue through April 17.

Polis made the announcement during a press conference that was broadcast live on his Facebook page. He said that if workplaces can reduce their in-person workforce beyond 50%, this is encouraged.

He added that this does not apply to employers who can show that their employees work 6 feet or more apart from each other, or to critical workplaces such as health care facilities. 

Other exemptions include critical infrastructure, manufacturing, retail, services, news media, financial institutes, construction, defense, public safety and vendors to public services.

Employers are also encouraged to set up their workplaces to function 100% remotely if possible.

Polis stressed that Coloradans are encouraged to stay home and only go out for necessities. He said that Coloradans should try to reduce the frequency in which they go out to do essential tasks, like reducing grocery shopping to once per week instead of twice per week, or to go out jogging for fewer times per week or at less common hours. 

Acknowledging that keeping the state population in quarantine is unsustainable for a long period of time, Polis said the state is working to create a mass testing strategy that will allow for more targeted responses and selective quarantining.

Polis said the state will set an example with more than half of its employees who do not work in round-the-clock operations, like prisons, working from home starting Monday.

He urged private employers to decrease workplace density by allowing telecommuting when possible or staggering shifts if it’s not.

Polis said the aim of the order and the previous restrictions on businesses like restaurants and bars and gatherings of more than 10 people is to slow the spread of the virus until the the state can deploy more widespread testing and obtain badly needed medical equipment. The state wants to handle the outbreak more like South Korea or Taiwan rather than Italy, he said.

Colorado may need 7,000 more ventilators when the outbreak reaches its peak, Polis said.

The governor acknowledged the orders cannot be enforced by police, just the fear of the “grim reaper.”

“The consequences are very much life and death for your friends, your loved ones and maybe even yourself,” he said.

While a total of 591 cases of the coronavirus have been reported in 29 of Colorado’s 64 counties as of Sunday, Polis said the number of people who have it is likely in the thousands. Six people have died.

Meanwhile, to help control the spread of the virus near Rocky Mountain National Park, hotels, motels and vacation rentals in and around Estes Park will close starting at noon Monday as the tourism-dependent community discourages people from visiting.

The order is set to stay in effect through April 17. Local workers, long-term residents of short-term facilities and people who are quarantined are exempt.

The age and health of a significant number of the area’s population is at risk of having serious complications from COVID-19. The move came at the urging of Estes Park’s hospital, according to an announcement from the town and Larimer County.

“This is an incredibly difficult decision made with the health of the people in our community in mind — our number one priority,” Estes Park town administrator Travis Machalek said in the statement.

The park closed Friday at the county’s request.

Colorado has seen spread of the disease in areas near its mountain ski resorts, which attract visitors from around around the world. All ski areas have been shut down because of the outbreak.

 The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Critical workplaces that are exempt include:

Health care operations.

Critical Infrastructure, including utilities, fuel supply and transmission, public water, telecommunications, transportation, hotels, organizations that provide for disadvantaged people, and food supply chain.

Critical Manufacturing, including food, beverages, chemicals, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, sanitary products, 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 homes, crematoriums, cemeteries, animal shelters and rescues.

• News Media.

• Financial Institutions.

• Providers of Basic Necessities to Economically Disadvantaged Populations.

• Construction.

• Defense.

Public Safety Services like law enforcement, fire prevention and response, EMTs, security, disinfection, cleaning, building code enforcement, snow removal, auto repair.

• Vendors that Provide Critical Services or Products including logistics, child care, tech support, or contractors with critical government services.

• “Critical Government Functions.”

Source: Colorado Governor’s Office press release

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