Garfield County rolls out ‘Safer at Home’ guidelines, launches recovery roadmap ahead of May 4 business reopenings |

Garfield County rolls out ‘Safer at Home’ guidelines, launches recovery roadmap ahead of May 4 business reopenings

Colorado Governor Jared Polis puts on his face mask after a news conference to update the state's efforts to stop the spread of the new coronavirus Wednesday, April 22, 2020, in Denver.
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Garfield County Public Health Director Yvonne Long will give a COVID-19 update and discuss the Garfield County Road Map to Recovery at a special Board of County Commissioners video-conference meeting at 9 a.m. Monday.

Garfield County Public Health has released its COVID-19 Roadmap to Recovery document, which outlines a plan for implementing Colorado’s “Safer at Home” guidelines.

Colorado officially lifts the statewide stay-at-home order on Monday and replaces it with the so-called Safer at Home. That includes a phased reopening of various sectors of the economy, which in Garfield County will begin Monday, May 4.

“The Safer at Home phase is not a return to normal,” Gov. Jared Polis said last week. “This is merely transitioning to a more sustainable level of social distancing that we are going to have to maintain for the long haul — likely months … The next few weeks are even more important than the last few.”

In Garfield County, some businesses and agencies that were closed under the stay at home order may again reopen on May 4, provided they make all required public health accommodations and submit a “Garfield County Business Social Distancing Plan” to ensure a safe work environment.

Starting Monday, April 27, in-person real estate showings may begin, but open houses are prohibited, according to a late Saturday press release issued by county officials.

On May 4, “under strict social distancing precautions,” medical and dental offices can reopen; retail businesses can open to the public beyond curbside pickup and delivery; personal services, including salons, dog grooming, personal training, tattoo parlors; and large workplaces may return at 50% of the in-person workforce, with symptoms and temperature checks as employees enter.

“Social distancing is really contributing to the success of managing the outcomes of these COVID-19 cases,” Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said in the Saturday release.

Jankovsky said he is optimistic about flattening the curve of cases with the actions the community is taking.

“We haven’t overwhelmed our medical facilities,” he said in the release. “We now really want to start helping people get back to work, and are going to help businesses reopen as soon as possible.”

Garfield County’s “Safer at Home” order allows businesses to begin ramping up, while still protecting the well-being of its residents, according to the release.

Local businesses and agencies in Garfield County are advised to visit and fill out the online “Garfield County Business Social Distancing Plan”.

This includes all businesses — regardless of whether they are currently in operation or not. Restaurants may continue curbside pickup and delivery services, but not provide internal dining until further notice.

The response does not need to be approved by Public Health, and businesses that have been closed may plan to reopen on May 4. The county isn’t conducting inspections, but will contact a business if it receives reports of an establishment out of compliance with public health orders, according to the release.

“We’re looking at this reopening process from an educational standpoint, not punitive,” Garfield County Public Health Director Yvonne Long said in the release. “We’re offering guidance on how to safely reopen businesses to both get people back to work and keep them safe.”

Public health experts and county staff are working with local elected officials, businesses, nonprofits and others to develop plans that will ease restrictions while limiting the potential spread of COVID-19.

For now, Garfield County is following the governor’s plan, with two notable differences:

  • Garfield County is already allowing retailers to provide curbside delivery and pickup. This is not changing.
  • Retail and personal services cannot reopen until May 4. The governor’s order states May 1. All businesses and agencies must submit a “Garfield County Business Social Distancing Plan.”

“Our orders will align with the governor’s orders,” Long said. “There’s really not a lot of difference there.

“What people may ask is, ‘why is Garfield County waiting to reopen until three days after the state order?’ To even be able to open the county to the level that we’re doing, we must be able to prove that we have had a decrease in cases over the past two weeks. We also have to be conscious of the hospitals, so they don’t become overloaded. We aren’t at the end of this epidemic yet, but there is a glimmer of light and hope.”

The Garfield County Road Map document aims to assist the community in entering into a stabilization phase, said Long, who will give an update and discuss the road map at a special Board of County Commissioners video-conference meeting at 9 a.m. Monday.

Indicators that must be met to move into this phase include a sustained decrease in COVID-19 cases for 14 days; hospitals able to aid patients without resorting to crisis standards of care; offering testing for anyone with COVID-19 symptoms and actively monitoring all cases; and ensuring clear social-distancing protocols remain in place. A recovery phase requires that a vaccine is widely available.

In the coming days, Gov. Polis is expected to officially announce the parameters for personal service businesses to reopen, with strict precautions.

“Any governor’s order that eases statewide restrictions does not supersede compliance with local health orders; personal services should not reopen until these directives are officially conveyed and safety measures can be fully implemented,” Garfield County’s press release states.

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