Coloardo Governor Jared Polis speaks on a video conference on Friday, April 24.
As Colorado gets ready to begin the gradual reopening of the economy under Gov. Jared Polis' Safer At Home plan, he is making it clear that the state will not tolerate counties that enact their own plans for reopening.
Speaking during a video conference on Friday, Gov. Polis was asked about the situation regarding Weld County. Mike Freeman, the Chairman of the Weld County Board of Commissioners, told KFKA Radio in Greeley this week that unlike the state plan, the reopening of Weld County "will be for businesses in general across the board" and not limited to certain businesses, as the state plan outlines.
Gov. Polis said counties need to submit a plan to the state if they want to reopen earlier than the plan set forth by the state.
"If any county is not treating this like the emergency that it is, then they risk losing emergency funds," the governor said. "Local buy-in is critical and that's why we're excited to work with Mesa County, with Eagle County, with any others that have better ways that they can open up more. We're happy to work with them and get those approved. Weld County has not requested that."
Gov. Polis acknowledged the Weld County guidance for reopening was "fine but it's not as thorough as our guidance."
He said businesses have to do more than meet Weld County guidance if Weld County has not worked with the state in forming a mutually agreeable plan for the county.
"If Weld County wants to do something differently, we encourage that. You should apply for that and we'll work with you to do that. But if you are unilaterally are saying, as at least one commissioner said, that we're just not going to follow any of the health and safety guidance of the state and any business can open that meets these basic criteria, then that is endangering the lives of the residents of Weld County. As governor, I'm going to act to prevent that and protect people in Weld County."
"If they in any way think that businesses that aren't meeting the statewide guidance are somehow able to operate in a free-for-all, that they're planning on saying restaurants can open and clubs can open and businesses don't have to have social distancing, that would be a great danger to the people of Weld County. They have not even requested any type of variance around what they want to do that's different than the state," Gov. Polis said.
If Weld County, or any other county, were to enact its own set of reopening guidance that differed from that of the state, Gov. Polis said not only could that lose the emergency funds but the county could put some businesses at risk.
"We will absolutely use every mechanism we have. Those businesses could lose their licenses to operate under the state if they're state-licensed businesses."
Weld County Commissioner Scott James will be a guest with Mike Rice on Sunday, April 26 at 12:05 p.m. MDT on KOA NewsRadio 850 AM and 94.1 FM and on the iHeart Radio app.
The governor said more specific guidance on Safer At Home measures and restrictions will be forthcoming on Monday, April 27.
Gov. Polis also addressed several other issues on Friday, including:
COMMUNITIES THAT MANDATE WEARING MASKS IN PUBLIC
"Wearing masks is a very simple act that we all need to do. I'm very supportive of Wheat Ridge, if Denver moves that way, in public places. That doesn't mean when you're doing yard work in your own yard. But when you're out on a trail that others are on, when you're going to the grocery store or any store that begins to be open in early May, [it's] very important to protect both the employees there and yourself."
NOT GOING TO THE MOUNTAINS BUT ENJOYING RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES WITHIN 10 MILES OF YOUR HOME:
"It's really important that people recreate near their homes for two reasons. One is so people aren't congregating in areas that might be beautiful but become dangerous because too many people choose those areas. The second reason is we don't want more regional spread of the virus. Areas that are just turning the corner and getting control of infections do not need a whole new round of infections from people from Colorado Springs or Denver who are going to those areas."
PEOPLE WHO ARE AFRAID TO GO BACK TO WORK WHEN THEIR EMPLOYERS RAMP UP SHIFTS
"When workplaces return to 50 percent of the density, that's May 4, the 50 percent that are telecommuting or not going in, that should be prioritized for those with pre-existing conditions or older Coloradoans who are still in the work force. That'll be part of the guidance that is coming on Monday. If you're able not to work, that's a wonderful thing. But just recognize that all Coloradoans can't. Some have to work to live and there needs to be a way to do that. The danger of the virus will likely continue through summer. So as your thinking about what risks you want to take on yourself, you have to balance that with, 'Can I afford not to make a living for six months?' Some people can. But there are others that have to put food on the table for their family and make their rent and need to work and we want to have more opportunities to do that in as safe a way as possible."
The full audio of the governor's remarks is below.