On April 26, 2020, the Governor issued an order lifting the month long Stay at Home order in favor of a new “Safer at Home” order. This order eliminates the previous mandate closing many Colorado businesses, and the corresponding public health order provides structure on how Colorado businesses are expected to operate.

On June 1, 2020, the Governor extended and modified the Safer at Home order, now titled “Safer at Home and in the Vast, Great Outdoors.” This order eases restrictions on vulnerable populations and opens certain outdoor recreation facilities, such as swimming pools and playgrounds, in a limited capacity. A public health order setting guidelines for these facilities to open is forthcoming. This newest iteration of the Safer at Home order is set to expire on July 1, 2020.

What does “Safer at Home” Mean?

Unlike the previous Stay at Home order, it is no longer a mandate to stay home whenever possible unless you are considered a vulnerable individual or experience any symptoms of COVID 19. It is still recommended that whenever possible, individuals stay at home unless they are conducting a necessary activity, such as seeking healthcare, obtaining supplies, or exercising outdoors. Private gatherings of people are once again permitted, but cannot exceed 10 people.

Vulnerable individuals were previously ordered to stay at home as Safer at Home was phased in. These individuals are now allowed to practice safer at home, but cannot be compelled to perform in-person work for any business. Vulnerable individuals include those 65 and over, those with chronic lung disease or asthma, those with serious heart conditions, those who are immunocompromised, pregnant women, and individuals deemed high risk by a licensed health care provider.

What’s Next for my Critical Business?

Critical businesses, such as grocery stores, medical offices, and financial institutions, were allowed to stay open under the previous Stay at Home order, provided they comply with social distancing requirements. This has not changed. Employees at critical businesses must continue to wear non-medical face masks through at least June 16, 2020. Critical government functions can also continue as they were, but must require employees to wear non-medical face masks. To the extent possible, allowing employees to work remotely is still recommended.

To continue to operate as a critical business, the Governor has prescribed a series of “best practices”, as described below, that must be followed.

What if I’m Not a Critical Business?

Business not designated as critical businesses were previously only allowed to maintain minimum basic operations, such as processing payroll and inventory. Under the Safer at Home order, non-critical businesses are slowly being allowed to open with social distancing requirements and if they follow “best practices” as described in the section below.

As of May 4, 2020, many non-critical businesses were allowed to reopen, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Office spaces, including corporate and private offices, at 50% capacity;
  • Child care establishments, including child care centers and in-home child care providers;
  • Public and private schools, although instruction for the 2019-20 school year will continue to be provided remotely;
  • Public and private higher education systems for any programs not conducive to remote instruction, such as clinical, occupational, and career/technical programs;
  • Field services not previously designated as critical businesses, such as real estate and home appraisals;
  • Medical, dental, and veterinary offices, providing voluntary or elective procedures;
  • Health care facilities providing physical therapy, chiropractic treatments, and occupational therapy;
  • Personal service establishments, such as beauty salons, dry cleaners, and pet groomers;
  • Recreational facilities, such as tennis courts and golf courses;
  • Retail stores, provided that the entrance/exit opens to the outdoors and not an indoor common hallway;
  • Nursing and congregate care facilities, with strict limitations on visitors.

As of May 27, 2020, restaurants are allowed to open for dine in service at 50% capacity or 50 occupants, whichever is less. Groups must be limited to eight people and spaced so patrons are a minimum of 6 feet apart. Outdoor dining is subject to the same requirements. Any outdoor dining space must be licensed by the appropriate local government entities prior to use.

Indoor gyms, fitness classes, and recreation centers now have the green light to open at 25% capacity or up to 50 people, whichever is less, so long as patrons can stay 6 feet apart and efforts are taken to minimize shared equipment.

Movie theaters, casinos, and bars not serving meals may not open under the current Safer at Home order.

On June 4, 2020, Governor Polis issued guidance for houses of worship enabling them to open at 50% capacity or 50 people per room, whichever is less, for indoor services. Outdoor services do not presently have a cap but must exercise 6 feet of social distancing between households. Wherever possible, houses of worship are encouraged to facilitate “touchless” experiences.

What Are “Best Practices”?

In transitioning to Safer at Home, Governor Polis outlined a series of mandatory “best practices” for business to follow. These best practices are focused on the safety of the workplace, employees, and customers.

First, workplaces must take precautions to limit disease transmissions. These include:

  • Choosing a workplace coordinator(s) to address COVID-19 issues;
  • Maintaining 6 foot separation between employees;
  • Cleaning and disinfecting all high touch areas and common spaces;
  • Posting signage on good hygiene;
  • Ensuring proper ventilation;
  • Avoiding any gatherings over 10 individuals;
  • Implementing symptom monitoring, including taking or recording employee temperatures.

Additionally, if the workplace has more than 50 individuals in one location, the business must begin at office or home symptom screening and temperature checks, close common areas, implement mandatory cleaning and disinfection protocols, and mandate adherence to social distancing requirements.

The following steps must be taken in regard to employees:

  • Mandating sick employees stay home and connect them with company or state benefit providers;
  • Providing telecommuting accommodations to vulnerable individuals who remain subject to Stay at Home guidance;
  • Providing flexibility to employees caring for children or elderly or who live with an individual who still needs to observe Stay at Home guidance;
  • Encouraging remote work whenever possible;
  • Encouraging hygiene breaks;
  • Scheduling employees in shifts to reduce office density;
  • Providing appropriate protective gear, such as gloves, masks, and face coverings.

The following steps must be taken regarding customers:

  • Creating specific hours for vulnerable individuals, if possible;
  • Encouraging 6 foot distancing for all customers;
  • Encouraging the use of gloves and face coverings;
  • Providing hand sanitizer at business entrances, if possible;
  • Using contactless payment solutions, trash cans, etc., whenever possible.

In addition to these general guidelines, best practices for specific sectors are available on Colorado’s COVID update page.

What if my Local Government Issues an Order?

Local governments continue to be allowed, under the statewide order, to issue orders specific to their jurisdictions.  These local orders remain in full force and effect.  However, if a provision in a local order conflicts with a provision in the statewide Safer at Home order, individuals in that local jurisdiction must comply with the most restrictive provision in the respective orders, unless the local government was granted a waiver to institute less restrictive measures appropriate to their jurisdiction.

As a critical business, Hall & Evans continues to maintain full operations during this pandemic while adhering to social distancing requirements. Please contact Daniel Furman with any questions or concerns regarding the statewide Safer at Home order.