Confused over Colorado's safer-at-home phase? Here's what will change and what won't

Posted at 3:44 PM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-26 23:04:35-04

DENVER — Colorado's stay-at-home order expires Sunday, and the state will then move into a "safer-at-home" phase, with social distancing still strongly encouraged.

But how will May be different than April? How will it be the same?

Gov. Jared Polis issued the safer-at-home executive on Sunday. He explained in more detail at a news conference Wednesday about what life will look like in Colorado beginning next week.

READ MORE: Colorado governor issues 'safer at home' order outlining how some businesses can begin re-opening

READ MORE: Front Range counties taking different approaches to end of Colorado stay-at-home order

Polis used two Colorado analogies to summarize the new phase. For skiers, we're moving from the bunny slopes to the greens, Polis explained. For hikers, we're at a trailhead with 14,000 feet to go.

"If we fall down on green, it's back to the bunny hill," Polis said.

The safer-at-home phase, Polis explained, is a step forward for some businesses to re-open and employees to return to work. But many of the practices and measures enacted during the stay-at-home order will still be strongly encouraged.

View Polis' full slideshow from Wednesday's news conference

More information about safer-at-home

Here's what we know:

What safer-at-home means

• All Coloradans are still encouraged to stay home as much as possible. Vulnerable populations and older residents are encouraged to stay home except when absolutely necessary. For vulnerable and older residents, May will not look much different than April, Polis said. And when Coloradans do go in public, they will still be strongly encouraged to wear a face mask.

The safer-at-home phase is "not in any way going back to normal," Polis said.

"Safer-at-home means continuing limiting social interactions to the greatest extent possible," Polis said. "May is going to look just like April for people with pre-existing conditions [and seniors]."

What's the goal of safer-at-home?

• Under the stay-at-home order, Colorado officials aimed for levels of 75-85% social distancing. The safer-at-home phase will aim for 60-65% social distancing.

• Continued increase in testing and aggressive case detection through contact tracing.

• Building more healthcare capacity. Construction is almost complete at two alternative care facilities -- the Colorado Convention Center in Denver and The Ranch in Loveland -- the facilities will be operational by May 15, if needed.

What will be open?

• Essential businesses, such as grocery stores, that stayed open during the stay-at-home order will remain open.

• Retail businesses will be able to re-open with curbside delivery on April 27, and real estate business can also resume April 27. Retail stores can re-open in-person business on May 1, if they are prepared to do so with proper social distancing guidelines.

• Elective medical procedures will resume under safer-at-home, with required personal protective equipment.

• Dog grooming and personal training will be able resume under safer-at-home, with limitations such as contactless drop-off and payment.

• Starting May 4, all offices will be allowed to re-open at 50% workforce. Polis is encouraging businesses to have as many employees telecommute as possible. If telecommuting isn't an option, staggered shifts, social distancing and physical barriers are encouraged. For larger companies, Polis suggested temperature checks for employees, if feasible.

"I know everybody is chomping at the bit [to return]," Polis said, "but we need to get this right if it's going to be succesful."

• Nail and hair salons will be able to re-open May 1 with proper social distancing and with employees wearing face masks.

What will still be closed?

• Restaurants, bars, nightclubs and gyms. There is no set date for restaurants to re-open, though Polis said he hopes some will be able to open by mid-May after the state tracks initial data from the safer-at-home phase. No timetable has been given for when bars and restaurants could possible re-open.

• In-person schools, both K-12 and higher education, will stay closed for the remainder of the school year. Schools will prepare for in-person classes to resume in the fall, a goal Polis said he is "very optimistic" about.