Governor Polis’ Safer-at-Home Order and Implications for Employers and Restaurants

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UPDATE: On June 1, 2020, Governor Polis issued an updated Executive Order, linked here, that extended the Safer-at-Home phase of the states COVID-19 pandemic response for thirty (30) days. That Order now only recommends rather than directs employers to accommodate employees with childcare needs or that live with a Vulnerable Individual. That Order also encourages Coloradans to explore the vast outdoors while practicing social distancing and wearing a face covering. In addition to this extended Order, the restaurant guidelines, although forbidding bars to open, has evolved based upon a loophole that a few bars and breweries have found. If a bar or brewery has a restaurant license and offers food items it can reopen. However, if a bar or brewery reopens under its restaurant license it must also follow the restaurant guidelines. Further discussion on bars and breweries reopening can be found here.

On April 27, 2020, Governor Polis issued an Executive Order, linked here, that transitioned the state from Stay-at-Home to Safer-at-Home in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Safer-at-Home Executive Order is one of three governmental response levels meant to protect public health. The three levels are Stay-at-Home, Safer-at-Home, and Protect-Our-Neighbors. A graphic of the levels can be found here. Each level provides differing business closures, testing requirements, and permitted density of gatherings based upon the prevalence of the virus in the state. The Governor will monitor the virus and shift his Orders accordingly. On May 25, 2020, Governor Polis extended the April 27, 2020, Executive Order, which was set to expire on May 27, 2020, to June 1, 2020. The extended Executive Order can be found here.

The Safer-at-Home Executive Order outlines a number of measures to allow certain Coloradans to return to work, while maintaining sustainable levels of social distancing. The Order extends the closure of schools for in-person learning to the end of the 2019-2020 school year. The Order directs Vulnerable Individuals to continue to stay at home and prevents employers from mandating their attendance at their physical work place. The Order defines Vulnerable Individuals as individuals 65 years or older, individuals with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma, individuals who have serious heart conditions, individuals who are immunocompromised, pregnant women, and individuals determined to be high risk by a licensed healthcare provider. The Order also directs employers to make accommodations for employees with childcare responsibilities or who live with Vulnerable Individuals. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Department of Regulatory Agencies, and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment jointly issued a guidance document as it relates to the Order and Vulnerable Individuals, which can be found here.  

            The Order advises Coloradans to wear non-medical masks whenever they are in public. It prohibits gatherings of more than ten people in any public places. It also permits certain non-critical commercial and retail businesses to begin operating. Noncritical commercial businesses and retailers are required to only have 50% of their employees at the business at any given time. A list of noncritical commercial businesses and retailers can be found on page seven and Appendix F of Public Health Order 20-28 found here. The May 25, 2020, extension of the Safer-at-Home Executive Order also now permits restaurants, but not bars, to open for dine-in services starting May 27, 2020. The guidelines for opening of restaurants can be found here. The guidelines provide numerous restrictions on restaurants, including but not limited to, operating at 50% of the building code capacity with no more than 50 people at any given time, limiting parties to no more than eight, requiring patrons to wait for a table off the premises, encouraging outdoor dining, and seating patrons from different groups six feet apart. The guidelines also requires employees to continually wear masks, for restaurants to consider limiting their menus to promote social distancing in the kitchen, and for staff to take home all belongings at the end of their shifts.

            The attorneys at Lyons Gaddis are continually monitoring the government’s response to COVID-19 and are available to provide assistance through this difficult time.