Colorado COVID-19 Response Updates

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Pursuant to HJR20-1007, the Second Regular Session of the 72nd General Assembly is Temporarily Adjourned until 10:00 a.m., Monday, March 30, 2020.


March 23, 2020

Gov. Polis provided an update on the state’s response to COVID-19. Yesterday he signed an executive order directing all of Colorado’s non-critical employers to reduce their in-person workforce by 50 percent. In accordance with the executive order, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has also issued a public health order.

The executive order directs all employers to implement telework options to the greatest extent possible. If telework is not practical or possible, employers are encouraged to stagger work schedules to reduce the proximity of employees during work hours and to keep employees on payroll. This Executive Order does not apply to any employer that can certify that employees are no closer than six feet from one another during any part of their work hours.

To read the executive order, click here. To read the public health order, click here. To see frequently asked questions, click here.


March 22, 2020

Late yesterday CDPHE issued much-needed clarification on their Social Distancing Health Order. Among other things, they added explicit exceptions for homeless shelters and child care centers, two topics discussed on the listserve last week. The revised order also contains a clear exemption for meetings of municipal governing bodies. More information can be found here.


March 21, 2020

Overnight three new executive order were signed and posted by Governor Polis, and are available for viewing here: https://www.colorado.gov/governor/2020-executive-orders Each one of these Orders reflects the Governor’s authority to temporarily “suspend” the operation of state statutes during a declared emergency.

D 2020 010 Concerning Tax Relief.

The primary purpose of this one is to extend the statutory filing deadline for state income taxes, but one paragraph in the Order says this about local taxes:

“I direct DOR to coordinate with local governments that choose to extend tax payment deadlines for property, sales and use taxes and take whatever action they need to let them waive penalties and fees during the crisis.” The Order does not, however, require municipalities to do anything specific at this point. Furthermore, notably, the Order does not expressly suspend any of the statutes that govern the deadlines and penalties associated with payment of state-collected sales and use taxes, or collection of property taxes by county treasurers.

D 2020 011 Concerning Alcohol and Marijuana Regulatory Relief

This Order suspends all of the statutes that prevent bars, restaurants, etc. from selling alcohol beverages for off-premises consumption. Of particular note, the Order does NOT suspend open container laws, thus any alcohol beverage for off-premises consumption can only be sold in a sealed container. The Order also relaxes certain restrictions on “sales rooms” associated with craft breweries, wineries and distilleries. The Order is effective immediately statewide, with no additional approval by local licensing authorities required. Additional information from the Liquor Enforcement is available here: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/LED%20EO%20D2020%20011%20On%20Premise%20%26%20Breweries%20Delivery%20and%20Sales%20.pdf

Also included in this Order are a couple of provisions related to marijuana which weren’t mentioned in the Governor’s press conference yesterday, one making it easier for all MJ business to do on-line sales; another making it possible to obtain an MMJ diagnosis without physically visiting a doctor. A good analysis of these provisions is contained in this article: https://www.westword.com/marijuana/colorado-governor-allows-dispensary-curbside-orders-mmj-telemedicine-to-limit-covid-19-11670075

D 2020 012 Eviction, Foreclosure, Utility, and Unemployment Relief

In this wide-ranging Order we just want to highlight one provisions mentioned yesterday in the Governor’s announcement:

“To preserve and prioritize the resources of State and local agencies and make law enforcement officers available to perform critical functions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, I direct the Executive Director of the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to work with all Sheriffs, Mayors, and other local leaders to take similar formal actions with their law enforcement agencies to suspend residential eviction activity in the State until April 30, 2020 unless such actions are necessary to protect public health and safety.”

As you all know, most hands-on involvement by local law enforcement in the eviction process is done by county sheriffs, not municipal police departments, per C.R.S. 30-10-515, but municipal attorneys may be asked about it.


March 20, 2020

Gov. Jared Polis on Friday asked landlords and banks to be lenient toward Coloradans and keep them in their homes as thousands in the state deal with employment as a result of the new coronavirus.

The governor requested that landlords refrain from imposing late fees on tenants until at least April 30 and asked that they also hold off on evicting people who don’t or can’t pay. He also asked local governments to avoid using law enforcement resources for evictions that don’t affect public safety.

Polis will also issue guidance to state-chartered banks that they should not foreclose on homeowners who can’t make their mortgage payments.

Additionally, Polis asked utilities to give leeway to customers who may be struggling to pay because of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and not cut off service. Xcel Energy and Denver Water have already taken this step.

The governor did issue one mandate regarding housing on Friday: that no state law enforcement resources — i.e. the Colorado State Patrol — be used for evictions that don’t affect public safety.

Read more.


March 18, 2020

Gov. Polis announced the launch of the Help Colorado Now effort where Coloradans can donate or volunteer, as well as the Colorado COVID Relief Fund, which has already raised nearly $3 million to help Coloradans impacted by the coronavirus.

The Governor signed an executive order suspending in-person learning in public and private schools across the state from March 23 to April 17. The executive order directs Colorado school districts and the Charter School Institute to make every effort to provide alternative learning opportunities during this time while taking into account the needs of local communities. This order also directs the Commissioner of Education to issue guidance to support P-12 school systems in developing and implementing plans to assist families and students in accessing alternative learning, providing free and reduced lunch and breakfast, and offering waivers for instructional time as appropriate. Click here to read.

The Governor also announced that he would be extending the suspension of downhill ski area operations through April 6. COVID-19 has spread throughout many mountain communities where ski resorts are located, and this is a necessary step to help slow the spread of the virus. Last week, the Governor issued an executive order suspending ski area operations until March 22. Click here to read the order.

In accordance with CDC guidelines, the Colorado Department of Public Health also issued a public health order prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people. Gatherings include community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based events, sporting events with spectators, concerts, conventions, fundraisers, parades, fairs, festivals or any similar event that brings more than 10 people together. Click here to read.

Governor Jared Polis signed the following bills into law today (March 18, 2020):

BILL # TITLE HOUSE SPONSOR SENATE SPONSOR
HB 20-1301 Electronic Attendance in School District Board Meeting -Under current law, local school district boards of education may adopt policies allowing board members to participate in meetings electronically, as long as a quorum of board members is physically present. The bill specifies that members participating electronically must be included in the quorum, and that the board must have a procedure for members participating electronically to have real-time access to any materials available for in-person members. B. Mclachlan J. Sonneberg
SB 20-091 Minimum Pay For State Military Forces – Under current law, the governor may activate Colorado National Guard units for state active duty to protect life and property during natural disasters and civil emergencies. A guard member’s pay rate during the emergency is determined by the member’s rank and years of service; however, the minimum pay for a guard member called to emergency service is $20 per day. This bill sets the minimum pay for a member to be equivalent to the pay rate of an enlisted person holding the rank of E-4 with over six years of service. The daily pay rate for an enlisted person holding the rank of E-4 with six years of service is estimated at $88.80. Assuming a 12 hour day, this equates to about $7.40 an hour. Under current law, the minimum pay is $20.00 per day, or about $1.67 an hour. T. Exum

R. Holtorf

J. Sonneberg

R. Zenzinger


March 17, 2020

Gov. Polis signed an executive order and House Bill 20-1359 (HB20-1359) administratively, allowing Colorado’s political parties to amend certain rules and procedures governing the conduct of their assemblies and conventions and to limit in-person contact during nominating assemblies and conventions. Read the executive order here and the bill here.


March 16, 2020

The state issued a public health order on the temporary suspension of dine-in service at restaurants and bars. The public health order is effective March 17, 2020 at 8:00 a.m., and for the next 30 days closes brewpubs, breweries, microbreweries, distillery pubs, wineries, tasting rooms, special licensees, clubs, public bars, taverns, restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, Cigar bars, gyms, gymnasiums, theaters, casinos, movie and performance theaters, opera houses, concert halls, and music halls, restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, and other similar places of public accommodation offering food or beverage for on-premises consumption. These places are encouraged to offer food and beverage using a delivery service, window service, walk-up service, drive-through service, or drive-up service. Read the public health order here.


March 14, 2020

Gov. Jared Polis issued an executive order that directs downhill ski resorts to suspend operations for one week to slow the spread of COVID-19 and conserve medical resources in the state’s mountain communities. The Governor will continue to monitor the course of the COVID-19 outbreak in the state and may amend this Executive Order accordingly. Read the full executive order here.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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