DENVER — In accordance with Governor Polis’ executive order, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has issued a new public health order implementing a 50 percent reduction in non-essential business in-person work and increasing social distancing.

In order to protect public health and safety and slow the spread of COVID-19, this public health order increases social distancing and identifies critical workplaces that are exempt to make sure Colorado can provide goods and services to its people during the COVID-19 response.

“We call on Colorado business leaders to join us in these efforts,” says Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Help us protect Coloradans by using your best judgment about where your workplace fits in this public health order. It’s up to all of us to keep our workforce, partners, and the public safe.”

As with all other recent public health orders, businesses are asked to voluntarily comply; however, counties and local public health agencies have the authority to enforce this order. Local law enforcement and/or the local public health agency may contact businesses to encourage them to voluntarily comply.  If the problem continues, the business could face civil or criminal action for a violation of the public health order. People who are concerned about noncompliance should express their concerns to the business first, and if you continue to have concerns, report them to local law enforcement or your local public health agency.

The critical workplaces that are exempt include:

— Health care operations.

— Critical infrastructure, including utilities, fuel supply and transmission, public water, telecommunications, transportation, hotels, organizations that provide for disadvantaged people, and food supply chain.

— Critical manufacturing, including food, beverages, chemicals, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, sanitary products, agriculture.

— Critical retail, including grocery stores, liquor stores, farms, gas stations, restaurants and bars for takeout, marijuana dispensaries but only for medical or curbside delivery, hardware stores.

— Critical services, including trash and recycling, mail, shipping, laundromats, child care, building cleaning and maintenance, auto supply and repair, warehouses/distribution, funeral homes, crematoriums, cemeteries, animal shelters and rescues.

— News media.

— Financial institutions.

— Providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations.

— Construction.

— Defense.

— Public safety services like law enforcement, fire prevention and response, EMTs, security, disinfection, cleaning, building code enforcement, snow removal, auto repair.

— Vendors that provide critical services or products including logistics, childcare, tech support, or contractors with critical government services.

— Critical government functions.


Here are some examples of how this public health order could be implemented:


— Critical businesses: (e.g., hospital): the 50 percent reduction in workforce will not apply, but social distancing (6 feet apart) and gathering no more than 10 people does apply, to the extent possible.

— Non-critical businesses (e.g., a retail storefront that sells goods other than food): the 50 percent reduction in workforce does apply. This can be done by implementing teleworking, staggering your workforce, or using other tools. Social distancing and gathering no more than 10 people also applies. If you can show that your employees and customers can maintain a distance of six feet from one another during work hours, you can fill out a waiver form that allows your business to continue operating at more than 50 percent. This “self-certification for businesses” attestation form is available now at


The order takes effect on Tuesday, March 24 at 8 a.m. and is set to last through 11:59 p.m. on Friday, April 10. The order may be extended, changed, ended or replaced, so it is important to follow local sources of good information, like to stay informed.  

On March 5, CDPHE’s public health laboratory confirmed the first presumptive positive COVID-19 test result in Colorado. Since then, the number of confirmed cases has continued to climb. Colorado needs to take these precautions for the preservation of public health and safety throughout our entire State and to ensure our health care delivery system can serve those who are sick.  

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