Officials: Despite using different language, Summit County already has a stay-at-home order in place
DILLON — On Wednesday, Gov. Jared Polis announced a stay-at-home order, shutting down businesses across the state through April 11. As more cities, counties and states continue to enact stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, Summit officials say county residents shouldn’t expect to see tightening of restrictions in the local public health order anytime soon.
Brian Bovaird, the county’s emergency management director, said for all intents and purposes, Summit County already has issued its stay-at-home order.
“We’re getting a lot of questions about shelter-in-place or stay-in-home orders. If you look at Denver, there isn’t much difference in the order they’re putting in place versus the public health order that we initiated back on the 16th of this month,” Bovaird said about Denver’s stay-at-home order, which was issued Monday.
Similar to Summit County’s public health order, the new restrictions around the state still allow residents to venture out for groceries, health care appointments, exercise and more. Restaurants are still allowed to offer takeout and delivery, liquor stores will remain open and essential employees are still heading to work. The state’s order is expected to go into effect at 6 a.m. Thursday.
Though, Bovaird noted that Summit’s order is actually more restrictive than the state’s in some ways, including shutting down guest lodging, public transportation and ride-sharing services, all of which are expected to continue operating in Denver and elsewhere.
Given the county’s limited resources to respond to a large-scale outbreak of the new coronavirus, Bovaird said moving swiftly to roll out restrictions was paramount in both protecting the public health and trying to minimize confusion among residents.
“The model was there,” Bovaird said. “Given our limited capacity in our hospital system, and because of our desire to do whatever we can to protect our community, we wanted all of those measures in place right away.
“But as the virus started to spread throughout Colorado, we were seeing a lot of reactionary orders being put in place and changing hourly. What we wanted to do is get our restrictions in place and keep them there so there wasn’t additional confusion with things changing over and over again.”
Bovaird also said the choice to call the county’s regulations a public health order in lieu of a stay-at-home or shelter-in-place order was a deliberate one. A stay-at-home order wouldn’t technically be accurate, with residents encouraged to leave their homes to exercise or to run essential errands.
And shelter-in-place orders already carry an established meaning and protocols as part of the county’s emergency alert system — including cutting off heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and closing windows as part of a hazmat response.
“We take the naming conventions of our public protective actions pretty seriously,” Bovaird said.
While there could always be new restrictions enacted at the state or federal levels, county officials say they’re not considering any major changes locally.
“We feel like the measures we put in place last week are still the appropriate measures and account for everything the experts say we need to be doing to limit the spread,” Bovaird said. “We’re pretty proud of ourselves for taking the lead initially to give community members a sense of consistency.”
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