Q&A: Everything you need to know about the new safer-at-home Summit County public health order
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct that antibody testing is available at some private health care providers.
FRISCO — Summit County’s safer-at-home public health order went into effect Monday, lifting some of the restrictions put in place by the original stay-at-home order.
The county board of health deliberated the order in hourslong meetings before Public Health Director Amy Wineland signed it. The goal of the order is to transition into “stabilization stage 1,” which is the first of three stages before the county will fully open.
“Social distancing measures have true hard costs on our people, our community and the economy,” Wineland said at a county recovery team town hall Monday. So we do need to move into a more realistic approach.”
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There isn’t an exact date for when society will return as it was before the virus. That depends on when a vaccine is created, which researchers estimate won’t happen for 18-24 months. An effective treatment could come sooner.
Until then, here are answers to questions about what the new normal looks like.
When and where do I have to wear a mask?
Masks or face coverings are required whenever people are in a building open to the public. They are also required outdoors when a 6-foot distance between individuals isn’t possible.
To prevent a shortage of medical supplies, the county recommends that people use fabric masks, like bandannas, to cover the mouth and nose.
Most importantly, county officials are requiring people to wear masks when grocery shopping, as those stores are the most densely populated.
“Our hope is that people are using their personal responsibility to wear a mask because it’s the right thing to do,” Summit County Manager Scott Vargo said at Thursday’s board of health meeting. “But it is something that’s in our order. It’s a must. It’s a requirement.”
What if I have symptoms?
Get tested, stay home and self-isolate.
The public health order hasn’t changed for those who are experiencing symptoms of the virus, including headache, fever, muscle aches, cough and sore throat.
It maintains that people with symptoms must self-isolate for at least seven days after the first day of symptoms and cannot leave the house for 72 hours after they are fever and symptom free.
Those who have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus are still required to self-quarantine for 14 days at their home.
To get tested, make an appointment for either the Centura Health daily testing clinic by calling 970-668-5584 or the Vail Health thrice weekly testing clinic by emailing email@example.com.
Can I visit friends and family now?
People are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible and limit interactions to immediate household members, according to a FAQ provided by the county.
However, those who do decide to see friends or family should limit gatherings to fewer than 10 people, wear face coverings and stay 6 feet apart.
When can I return to work at my office?
Telecommuting and remote work is still strongly encouraged. However, both the state and the county are allowing office workers to return at 50% capacity up to 10 people starting Monday, May 4. Social distancing has to remain in place.
Can I eat at a restaurant?
Dine-in services continue to be prohibited, according to the order. That doesn’t mean you can’t get takeout, though. With the safer-at-home order, restaurants and bars are allowed to provide carryout and delivery as well as curbside pickup.
Find a list of local restaurants open for takeout at SummitDaily.com/takeout.
Are county transportation services operating?
Yes, to some extent. The Summit Stage is operating with a limit of fewer than 10 passengers and paratransit services will continue.
Face coverings are required to ride any of the county’s bus services, and passengers are expected to maintain a 6-foot distance as much as possible.
All other transportation services — including Uber, Lyft and shuttle services — are still prohibited under the county’s order. The only exception is for people who need the service to leave or return to Summit County.
Can second-home owners come to Summit County?
While the county is not prohibiting second-home owners to go to their properties, the order strongly encourages those homeowners to avoid coming to the county. The only exception is for necessary activities.
On multiple instances, county officials have reinforced they do not want an onslaught of visitors potentially spreading the virus to Summit County residents.
What are the rules around short-term lodging?
In an effort to prevent people from coming to Summit County, short-term lodging businesses — campsites, hotels, motels and short-term rentals like Airbnb and VRBO — are not allowed to operate through May 31.
The exceptions to the rule are for workers and people who are sick with COVID-19 symptoms in short-term housing.
While short-term lodging is a large component of the county’s economy, officials want to contain the virus and believe short-term lodging would negatively impact that goal. At Thursday’s board of health meeting, Wineland said the county will make a final decision about the June 1 open date by May 20.
“We will have to wait and see what our impact is with these small steps forward (before opening short-term lodging),” Wineland said at Monday’s meeting.
When can I open my retail business?
It depends on your business classification. The county refers to the state’s definition of noncritical and critical retail businesses.
According to the state safer-at-home order, critical retail stores involve the sale of food or beverage, like grocery stores, liquor stores, restaurants and farm or produce stands. It also includes gas stations, marijuana dispensaries, firearm stores, hardware stores and establishments that are able to sell products in a work-from-home capacity. It specifically excludes stores that sell only health and nutrition-related products and craft stores.
Noncritical stores are defined as any retail business that does not fall into the list of critical businesses. Noncritical retail businesses are now permitted to sell goods through delivery, walk-up or curbside pickup.
Starting Friday, May 1, individual, in-person shopping by appointment is allowed at noncritical businesses, according to the county’s order.
What is a personal service business and when can they open?
The county again refers to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s definition of personal services:
- Beauty services
- Body art professionals like tattoo and piercing parlors
- Massage therapists in non-health care settings
- Personal training for fewer than four people
- Pastoral services
- Pet services such as grooming, handling, transporting and training
- Tailors and dry cleaners
- Sun-tanning services
Starting Friday, May 1, personal services can begin operations.
What precautions do I need to take to reopen my business?
Businesses have to post the completed form on the front of the business so customers, employees and others can see it.
My business is essential. Is there anything new I have to do?
The only new requirement of essential businesses is to fill out the Social Distancing Protocol form by Friday, May 1, and post it on entrances.
Is it safe for child care centers to reopen?
Child care centers are able to open starting May 11. While it will be difficult to keep children socially distant, parents will need adequate child care with many businesses reopening.
The county is encouraging those services to follow all Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recommendations and guidelines.
The state health department recommends that child care facilities implement curbside pickup and drop-off only, keep children who are sick at home, provide face coverings for kids 3 years and older, to remove face coverings for naps and have children nap 6 feet apart. Child care facilities also will be required to keep fewer than 10 children in classrooms.
When will we have antibody testing?
Summit County officials are not currently performing antibody tests, but they may be available through some private providers. The tests are used to determine whether someone has the antibodies to fight COVID-19, meaning it will tell a person if they’ve ever had the virus but not if they currently have it or have recovered from it.
Antibody tests are also known to present false positives and can’t predict whether a person is immune to the virus. Because of all of these reasons, the county is not providing antibody testing. However, if the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations change, the county likely will follow.
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