By Mary Jo Coulehan
Special to The SUN
By an executive order from the governor of Colorado, Archuleta County businesses and offices can slowly begin to reopen their doors. The order, executed on April 27, extends for the next 30 days.
While following is only a highlight of the order, there is a “short” version of the order and a 34-page document. For some of the regulations, you really need to read the full document.
In the effort to keep the COVID-19 cases in the continuing flat line or decrease mode, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the governor’s office have issued some guidelines for those businesses that are allowed to open.
Obviously, social distancing, sanitation protocols and employee safety are paramount in the guidelines to reopen. San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) has issued a checklist and self-assessment form they would like for businesses that are reopening to file with their office. This form can be found on the SJBPH site at https://forms.laplata.co.us/Forms/BusinessCert.
The highlights are: signage upon entering the establishment warning individuals not to enter if you feel or display symptoms of the virus and basic health protocols; employee safety self-checking for symptoms, providing masks, and time to frequently wash hands and social distancing; crowd prevention and social distancing where the business either marks out spaces at checkout, reorganizes flow within the store or office or limiting the number of people in the establishment; sanitation protocols are in place; unnecessary contact efforts; other efforts. The business will then self-attest that they are meeting these guidelines and submit the form to SJBPH.
However, the governor also encourages that if you do not need to open and telecommuting is working well for your office, continue to telecommute. Offices can only bring back up to 50 percent of office staff and you must meet the self-assessment tool. Food establishments can only continue to offer drive-up, take-out or delivery services.
One sector of much discussion that the Chamber of Commerce has received a number of calls about is the ability of short-term rentals (STRs) to open up. According to the state’s guidelines, STRs cannot open up for rental at this time. These guidelines are in place 30 days after the execution of the order, or until May 26. Considered Critical Infrastructure: “Hotels, and places of accommodation, excluding private, short-term vacation-style rentals such as those arranged through an online hosting platform, including but not limited to VRBO or Airbnb, rented for a period of 30 days or fewer, homeowner rentals and privately owned residences for rent, except if offered for use for the public health response.”
You may read the entire 34-page Public Health 20-28 Safer at Home Order at https://covid19.colorado.gov/covid-19-in-colorado/public-health-executive-orders-resource.
The purpose, again, of opening up gradually is to make sure that the virus is in check in our community, to prepare for the next phase of public integration, and safety for us all. We encourage all businesses to look at their reopening protocols, self-assess and self-certify with the SJBPH department, and keep employee and client safety a priority. No one wants to reduce business and close again.
The Chamber offices are staffed Monday through Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please call in advance to gain access to the building. The phones, 264-2360, are answered Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Consultations and visits are available by appointment.
Stay safe, Pagosa, and open up your business conscientiously.