In response to the growing number of COVID-19 cases, Colorado Governor Jared Polis issued an executive order requiring all non-critical employers to reduce their in-person workforce by 50 percent. The order goes into effect on March 24, 2020, and (as currently written) will remain in effect until April 10, 2020. Additionally, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued a public health order implementing and providing additional detail regarding the executive order issued by Governor Polis.

Under these orders, employers must implement telework or other work-from-home options to the greatest extent possible. If it is not possible or practical for employees to work from home, employers are encouraged to rotate shifts, stagger work schedules, and take other measures to reduce the proximity of workers during the workday. The order does not apply to employers that can certify that employees are no closer than six feet during working hours.

“Critical businesses” are encouraged to stay open, but urged to comply with social distancing requirements to the greatest extent possible. The public health order defines the following industries as “critical” and exempts them from the order:

  • Health care operations, including hospitals, clinics, walk-in facilities, medical and dental care, ambulatory providers, research and laboratory services, medical wholesale and distribution, home health care companies, pharmacies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, behavioral health care providers, veterinary care, nursing home and residential care, and medical supply and equipment manufacturers and suppliers;

  • Critical infrastructure, including utilities, fuel supply and transmission, public water, telecommunications, transportation, hotels, organizations that provide for disadvantaged people, and business involved in food production or distribution;

  • Critical manufacturing, including food, beverages, chemicals, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, sanitary products, and 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), and 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, and animal shelters and rescues;

  • News media;

  • Financial institutions;

  • Providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations;

  • Construction;

  • Defense;

  • Public safety and sanitation services, including law enforcement, fire prevention and response, EMTs, security, disinfection, cleaning, building code enforcement, snow removal, and auto repair;

  • Vendors that provide critical services or products including logistics, child care, technical support, and contractors with critical government services; and

  • Critical government functions, including public safety, emergency response, judicial branch operations, emergency medical, designated emergency shelters, communications, public utility operations, transportation, hazardous material safety, and services to at-risk populations.

Failure to comply with these orders is a misdemeanor and may result in a fine of up to $1,000 and imprisonment in county jail for up to one year.

Constangy attorneys are monitoring the status of rules issued pursuant to the declared state of emergency in Colorado, and we will keep employers informed of any changes, including any challenges to enforceability. If you have any questions about this or other workplace issues, please do not hesitate to contact any Constangy attorney.

Please be aware that substantial changes in the governmental guidance and the underlying laws are occurring on almost a daily basis, which will impact the analysis of the legal issues related to COVID-19. It is critical that you check the Resource Center often for the most recent information and stay in continual contact with your Constangy attorney.

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