SAGUACHE COUNTY — Saguache County issued a public health order Monday effective through April 14 basically eliminating all nonessential services or sales of goods, which “should be construed in the light most favorable to preventing the community spread of COVID-19.”
Last week Saguache officials declared Saguache County a local disaster area. The order reads:
“The age, condition, and health of a significant portion of the population in Saguache County places it at risk of serious health complications, including death, from COVID- 19. Although most individuals who contract COVID-19 do not become seriously ill, persons with mild symptoms and asymptomatic persons with COVID-19 may place other vulnerable members of the public at significant risk. A large surge in the number of persons with serious infections can compromise the ability of the healthcare system, particularly in the high-country counties currently affected by community transmission, to deliver necessary healthcare to the public.
“The limitations on business activities, large gatherings and use of social distancing decreases the risk of COVID-19 transmission to our most vulnerable populations, and is especially important for people who are over 60 years old, or those with chronic health conditions due to their higher risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19. This Order will reduce the likelihood that many individuals will be exposed to COVID-19 at a single event and will therefore slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.”
The following restrictions will apply to all areas, including unincorporated areas, of Saguache County. Events are defined by the county as “a gathering for business, social or recreational activities, or a location that engages in or allows for such activities; that takes place indoors or outdoors, including, but not limited to, community, civic, public, leisure or sporting events; parades; concerts; festivals; assemblies; places of worship; conventions; fundraisers; restaurants (regardless of capacity); community recreational centers; ice rinks; libraries; child care centers; and similar locations and activities” will be subject to the following restrictions taken directly from the order:
• All Events of (10) people or more, including employees and attendees, are prohibited.
• All Events at the following locations are prohibited, regardless of the number of attendees: Day care centers, childcare centers, home childcare centers, community recreational centers and libraries.
• All Events at bars, taverns, taprooms and restaurants are prohibited, regardless of the number of attendees, except that such establishments may provide takeout and delivery of food so long as such establishments are otherwise in compliance with this Order. For the avoidance of doubt, this means that bars, taverns, taprooms, and restaurants should be and hereby are closed, except for takeout and delivery food service
• Service of alcohol by the drink at bars, taverns and restaurants is hereby prohibited, except that such facilities may serve alcohol on a package basis if otherwise permitted by law.
• All short term lodging, including but not limited to hotels, motels, short-term rentals (30 days or less), bed-and-breakfast establishments, lodges and retreats shall cease operations, unless otherwise authorized in writing by the Public Health Director for emergency or quarantine purposes, or to provide lodging for essential federal, state, county or local personnel.
• All Events at retail establishments are prohibited, regardless of the number of attendees, except for the types of retail establishments accepted by this Order below:
• Federal, state, local and special district facilities, public utilities or utility service providers (e.g., electric utility providers, internet service providers, water and sewer service providers), grocery stores, hardware stores, medical service providers (e.g., hospitals, doctor’s offices, medical clinics, veterinarians, medical supply companies, dental offices, physical therapists, pharmacies), gas stations and discount department stores (e.g., Dollar General). These are allowed to remain open.
• Retail establishments may continue to operate by continuing online or overthe-phone sales, except such goods ordered through such means must be delivered by mail or by delivery to a customer’s home or vehicle and outside of the retail location. Package liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries may continue to operate so long as they are otherwise in compliance with this Order.
• The County and District Courts are hereby exempted from this Order, except that Saguache County strongly encourages the Courts to: Consistent with any Court directives, a) vacate and reschedule all civil and domestic relations proceedings, especially civil jury trials (unless such proceedings can be conducted telephonically); b) vacate and reschedule criminal and traffic matters to the maximum extent possible consistent with defendants’ Constitutional rights.
• Residential and commercial construction sites may otherwise continue to operate so long as they are in compliance with this Order if they receive an express, written exemption from the Public Health Director after providing her sufficient Information, in her sole discretion, to ascertain compliance with this Order.
• Residential home and repair services (electrician, plumbing, propane delivery, trash, recycling and sanitation services, residential and commercial cleaning and home care services) may continue so long as they are in compliance with this Order.
• Events with ten (10) or fewer people, including employees and attendees, and including gatherings at all restaurants regardless of capacity, are prohibited unless event organizers take the following steps to mitigate risks:
- Older adults (age 60 and older), including employees, or individuals with underlying medical conditions that are at increased risk of serious COVID-19, including employees (collectively, “At-Risk Persons”) are not permitted to attend. For the avoidance of doubt, an “At-Risk Person” who is a federal, state, local or special district government employee, an employee of a medical service provider, an employee of a place or house of worship, or an employee of a public utility or utility service provider may report to his or her job site or other location(s) if necessary to perform his or her official job duties, so long as such location(s) are otherwise in compliance with this Order. An At-Risk Person may also enter into a medical service provider’s office or facility, hardware store, grocery store or discount department store for the purpose of obtaining medical care, food, clothing or other necessary items if such location is otherwise in compliance with this Order. However, At-Risk Persons are discouraged from engaging in such activities wherever possible.
- Social distancing recommendations must be met. These include limiting contact of people within 6 feet from each other for 10 minutes or longer, and any other guidance. See Section III, below.
- Employees must be screened for coronavirus symptoms each day and excluded if symptomatic.
- Proper hand hygiene and sanitation must be readily available to all attendees and employees.
- Environmental cleaning guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are followed (e.g., clean and disinfect high touch surfaces daily or more frequently)
“Saguache County is tasked with protecting the health and welfare of the citizens of Saguache County, Colorado by investigating and controlling the causes of epidemic and communicable disease. This Order is necessary to control any potential transmission of disease to others. See section 25-1-508, Colorado Revised Statutes. Immediate issuance of this Order is necessary for the preservation of public health, safety or welfare.
“Any person aggrieved and affected by this Order has the right to request judicial review by filing an action with the Saguache County District Court within 90 days of the date of this Order, pursuant to section 25-1-515, Colorado Revised Statutes. However, you must continue to obey the terms of this Order while your request for review is pending.
“We will not be actively searching for violations, but if we receive reports of events contrary to the order, we will reach out to the organizer to educate and provide guidance. “