WELD COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Weld County officials plan to allow all businesses to slowly reopen as soon as Monday, the day Gov. Jared Polis’ stay-at-home order officially expires. While other counties in Colorado are extending their orders, Weld County Commissioner At Large Kevin Ross told CBS4 the decision to reopen should be left to individual business owners.
Ross told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas the county issued “Safe-At-Work” guidelines, which encouraged business owners to open when they felt comfortable, and to still enforce social distancing and clean work spaces.
“It really just boils down, Dillon, to common sense,” Ross said via a Zoom meeting.
Ross’ interview with CBS4 was completed before Polis spoke to the media about the potential dangers of reopening businesses in Weld County too soon. CBS4 reached out to the county for an updated interview, but did not hear back.
Ross said business owners in the county should be allowed to reopen at the conclusion of Polis’ stay-at-home order on April 26, with no restrictions as to which industries could reopen.
“Government doesn’t have the ability to open businesses or close businesses. We respect a business’ own choice to make that decision themselves,” Ross said.
Ross said responsible businesses would offer hand sanitizer to guests, enforce social distancing regulations, clean working stations and more. Ross said businesses that are not promoting a safe environment would likely be hurt by a lack of sales, which would encourage them to create a safe environment for workers and guests.
“Businesses are going to innovate, and be able to market to say ‘Consumer, these are the steps we are taking on your behalf to make sure if you want to come in and do business with me, you are going to feel comfortable.’ And, the consumer is ultimately going to make the decision if they are going to do that,” Ross said.
However, Polis threatened to revoke emergency funding to Weld County if the county allowed businesses to operate outside of state guidelines. Polis also said the state could revoke business licenses from those companies that are not in compliance with state rules.
“If any a county is not treating this like the emergency it is then they risk losing emergency funds,” Polis said in a media briefing on Friday. “(Allowing businesses to open improperly) is endangering the lives of residents in Weld County. And, as Governor, I will have to prevent that to protect people in Weld County.”
Polis encouraged counties wanting to defy state regulations to apply for an exception. However, he said Weld County had failed to do so at the time of his media briefing.
CBS4 is awaiting an updated response from Ross, or Weld County elected officials, on the governor’s comments.
In the meantime, Ross encouraged business owners to stay closed if they do not feel safe, or are unprepared to offer a safe environment to workers and visitors.
“That is absolutely your right to do. It is not our job as government to pick winners and losers. We are just here to give you some guidelines to try and create that form of safety for the community,” Ross said.