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FAQ: What do new ‘safer-at-home’ coronavirus guidelines mean for you in Larimer County?

Kelly Lyell
Fort Collins Coloradoan
Published 12:18 AM EDT Apr 27, 2020

The stay-at-home orders in Larimer County and the state of Colorado expired Sunday without being extended, and we’re moving into what Gov. Jared Polis calls the “safer-at-home” phase to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The loosening of restrictions is being phased in slowly, and Larimer County has chosen to follow the state’s schedule.

Some counties, such as neighboring Weld County, have chosen to move more quickly, by allowing all businesses to reopen beginning Monday, with strict guidelines in place. Others, including neighboring Boulder County, along with Adams, Arapahoe, Denver and Jefferson counties, chose to extend their stay-at-home orders through May 8.

The Town of Windsor, which straddles a county line, is following Larimer County guidelines, officials said.

So, what does this transition really mean? Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about “safer-at-home.”

It’s important to note that official guidance from the state and county health departments on some specific requirements is still to come, and we anticipate more information to be released in the coming days. Information in this story is as correct and specific as possible as of 9 p.m. April 26.

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How long will ‘safer-at-home’ last? 

The executive order issued by Gov. Polis runs for 30 days after April 27, but it can be amended or extended at any time.

I’m in the ‘vulnerable population’ category, what’s next for me? 

Vulnerable individuals are instructed to continue to shelter at home, only leaving for essential tasks.

The new public health order adds a provision that says vulnerable individuals “cannot be compelled to perform in-person work for any business or government function,” including essential businesses. Employers are urged to make accommodations for anyone who is still subject to stay-at-home requirements.

The state defines vulnerable individuals as residents: 

The governor’s order also directs the labor department to issue emergency rules to ensure that vulnerable individuals are not at risk of losing unemployment insurance eligibility if they refuse to return to work for COVID-19 safety reasons.

When will I go back to work?

That depends on what your job is and what your employer chooses to do.

Nothing changes for those in businesses deemed “essential” during the stay-at-home orders. 

Non-essential businesses that need an in-person workforce may allow employees to return to the office in a limited capacity of no more than 50% beginning May 4. Employers may have to institute shifts to meet that goal, and businesses must symptom check and temperature check employees at the beginning of each shift.

Employees who have been able to work remotely should continue to do so. Additionally, the safer-at-home order directs employers to accommodate workers with child care responsibilities or workers who live in the same household as a vulnerable individual to “the greatest extent possible” with remote work, flexible schedules or other solutions.

Retail businesses that were not deemed essential can reopen beginning Monday with curbside delivery only. Customers will be able to go inside stores beginning Friday, under strict guidelines that the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment has posted on its website. These guidelines include mask-wearing by employees and customers, social distancing measures, and specific cleaning guidance, among others.

Real estate agents can begin showings Monday, but open houses are still not allowed.

I need a haircut and so does my dog, when do personal services open?

Hair salons, nail salons, and tattoo artists can resume business Friday, following strict guidelines.

According to the county health department, these businesses are considered “high risk” because 6 feet of social distance cannot be maintained while services are provided. 

Guidelines for personal services include:

Additional business-specific guidelines are available on the health department’s website.

Larimer County includes pet grooming in the retail category and will allow in-house and mobile services with curbside interaction with humans only beginning Monday.

When will kids go back to school?

Not until August, at the earliest.

All classroom and other in-person instruction in P-12 Colorado schools has been canceled through the end of the school year.

College students will continue to receive instruction online this spring and through summer terms at Colorado State University, Front Range Community College and other colleges and universities throughout the state. The safer-at-home order does allow for limited in-person instruction at the college level.

No decisions have yet been announced on how instruction will take place in the fall, although Poudre School District and CSU have told their staffs to prepare for both in-person and online instruction or a combination of both.

Will I have access to child care?

Under the stay-at-home order, child care facilities were allowed to stay open as essential businesses. Those facilities can remain open in this phase with strict precautions.

Check with your child care provider on their plan.

The Larimer County health department said separate guidance is forthcoming for child care facilities.

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Should I still wear a mask in public?

Yes. Both the county and state are urging people to continue wearing masks — including homemade masks, bandannas or scarves — that cover your nose and mouth when you leave your home or yard.

The county health department is requiring masks to be worn by customers and employees at businesses that are open. You should also wear them whenever you are likely to come within 6 feet of others, even when you’re out walking, hiking or riding a bicycle. 

Public health officials say the masks are not only for your own protection but also for protecting those you might come into contact with. Several studies cited by the Centers for Disease Control have shown that a significant number of people infected with the coronavirus, or COVID-19, are capable of transmitting it to others while not showing symptoms for many days or sometimes at all.

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Can I visit friends and family members?

Interactions between people from different households is still discouraged as is non-essential travel. If you do see limited family or friends outside of your immediate household, public health officials urge you to be cautious, stay 6 feet away apart and wear face coverings.

Gatherings of more than 10 people are still prohibited.

When will restaurants and bars open?

Restaurants and bars were allowed to remain open with pickup and delivery service only, and that won’t change until at least mid-May, Polis said. If the gradual reopening of other types of businesses and services doesn’t create a significant spike in the spread of the coronavirus, dining rooms and bars could reopen by mid-May with limited capacity and strict precautions in place.

Can I go to the gym or health club?

Gyms, health clubs and spas remain closed until further notice, Polis said. The governor’s office is considering allowing one-on-one personal training, but there is not official guidance on this as of Sunday.

The county has said it will issue separate guidance for swimming pools in the future.

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Can I see my doctor or dentist?

Doctors, dentists, veterinarians and other medical professionals can start seeing patients for non-emergency issues and elective procedures, provided they can obtain proper personal protection equipment, including masks and gloves, without causing a shortage of those supplies at hospitals. Strict guidelines are also in place for these facilities. 

While state guidelines say elective procedures can begin Monday, the county health department website says these services can begin Friday in Larimer County. 

Medical providers must stop elective procedures if there is a surge of COVID-19 infections locally.

Larimer County also includes other businesses in this category including: mental and behavioral health services, acupuncture, chiropractors, massage therapy, and physical therapy, among others.

Will places of worship reopen? 

As gatherings of more than 10 are prohibited, places of worship likely won’t reopen immediately. Larimer County has said it will issue separate guidance for these facilities in the future.

Are parks open?

City, county and state parks are still open, with recreators urged to follow social-distancing guidelines, but recreation centers, playgrounds, basketball courts, baseball and softball diamonds, picnic shelters, visitors’ centers, cabins and most campgrounds at those parks remain closed. The city of Fort Collins is reopening its tennis courts and golf and disc golf courses Monday.

Fort Collins’ popular trail system, including the Poudre, Spring Creek and Mason trails, remain open, as do hiking, bicycling and equestrian trails at city and county parks and natural areas and Colorado State Parks. The governor ‘s order instructs people participating in recreational activities to do so within 10 miles of home.

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Can I take a vacation?

Not yet.

Non-essential travel is still discouraged, and many hotels, motels, campgrounds and other short-term rental accommodations across the country remain closed. Airlines and cruise lines have canceled most of their scheduled trips, and travelers arriving from other states and countries might be required to self-quarantine for up to 14 days.

Estes Park will reopen hotels, motels and other short-term rentals Monday, but Larimer County officials are still discouraging travel there and to other mountain communities by non-residents. Rocky Mountain National Park and most other national parks in the state remain closed.

Can I go camping?

Close to home, possibly.

Larimer County reopened the Flatiron Campground at Carter Lake and South Bay Campground at Horsetooth Reservoir on Friday but only to county residents who had “existing reservations that were already booked in the system.” All other county, state, U.S. Forest Service and National Park campgrounds in the state remain closed.

Only self-contained, “hard-side” units with their own bathrooms are allowed at the two Larimer County sites that were opened, and no tents or other secondary units are allowed at each site. The maximum number of people allowed at one site is eight. Restrooms, showers, group picnic sites and pavilions remain closed, and no walk-up camping reservations will be accepted.

What about boating?

Boat ramps opened for the season last weekend at Carter Lake and Horsetooth Reservoir, and boat inspections for aquatic nuisance species are required for entrance. The boat ramp at Pinewood Reservoir is closed, and no trailered watercraft may be launched at Pinewood. Hand-launched rafts, kayaks, paddle boards, canoes, belly boats and float tubes may be launched without inspections at all three of the Larimer County Parks’ reservoirs and many other lakes and waterways in the area.

When will I be able to go to a festival, concert or sporting event?

Activities that bring large groups of people together won’t be happening for many months, at least, both Polis and state and county health officials have said. Most summer festivals, concerts and large sporting events have already been postponed or canceled.

Major professional sports leagues, including Major League Baseball and the National Football League, are looking at ways to play games safely this summer and beyond, but have not yet made any decisions on if or when they will start up.

The NCAA, the governing body for college sports, and the Colorado High School Activities Association, which oversees high school sports in the state, canceled spring seasons but are still hoping to play their fall sports seasons, as scheduled.

The county has also said that separate guidance is forthcoming for gatherings and special events.

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Have more questions?

Residents can fill out a form online to ask the Larimer County health department questions about the safer-at-home phase. The form can be found at

Read the full safer-at-home executive order

Editor’s note: As the coronavirus outbreak continues to evolve, we don’t want you to panic. In fact, quite the opposite. That’s why the Coloradoan is committed to providing you with accurate, up-to-date information so you can make informed decisions on issues affecting you and the people you love. As such, this story, and many others, are being provided free for all to read. Help us continue this important work by subscribing to the Coloradoan. 

Coloradoan reporter Kelly Lyell can be reached by email at, and you can follow him on Twitter @KellyLyell and find him on Facebook at Help support Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a subscription today. 

This content was originally published here.