Gov. Jared Polis, in a Friday "virtual" news conference held at his home, clarified some of the confusion around executive orders on evictions and foreclosures.
He called May 1 a "big milestone" in the state's efforts to move into reopening businesses across the state. As of Friday, retailers can reopen as long as they observe social distancing guidelines. That also includes hair and nail salons, dog groomers and personal trainers, for one-on-one sessions. But Polis also pointed out that some jurisdictions — all located on the Front Range — have extended their stay-at-home orders until next Friday, May 8. That includes Boulder, Jefferson, Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield and Denver counties.
However, restaurants are still limited to curbside or delivery services, and bars and gyms remain closed.
Offices can reopen on Monday with a maximum of 50% of their workforce, although the governor said he hoped many would continue to allow as many employees as possible to continue working from home. That's especially important for those over 65 and those with pre-existing conditions, Polis said.
Polis ended April with nine executive orders, issued late Thursday evening, on changes to the 2019-20 state budget and extending previous orders on evictions, marriage licenses and halting operations at the state's downhill ski resorts.
Polis has previously said that he did not have the authority to ban evictions or foreclosures, but an executive order issued yesterday said otherwise. Polis explained that the lawyers had found "stronger language" on the issue. In addition, he explained that the court system right now is dealing only with criminal cases and civil matters are on hold. "Courts are prioritizing necessary criminal work."
Renters still need to pay their rent, Polis said. If they don't pay it in April or May, they will have to pay it in June. Civil matters like evictions are just delayed and will resume in June, he said.
Polis briefly spoke about the executive order on the budget, also issued yesterday. The order said the state would avoid layoffs or furloughs of state employees through the end of the fiscal year, June 30. But Polis dodged a question on whether that was something he would consider for the 2020-21 budget year.
And while Polis issued an executive order extending timelines for unaffiliated candidates to collect signature to get on the ballot, he also dodged a question on whether he would issue a similar extension for ballot measures. Ten ballot measures are in the process of collecting signatures, not including a ballot measure banning late term abortions, which is on hold due to the pandemic. Proponents of that measure failed to submit enough signatures but a Denver District Court granted them extra time to gather the remainder.
The governor spoke about an interview he did with Colorado Public Radio Thursday, in which he said that the state had purchased 100,000 test kits from South Korea but didn't announce it until the kits had arrived, to prevent the federal government from doing with the test kits what it did with orders the state had placed for ventilators, which was to swoop in and take over those orders.
Polis told Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner that he didn't announce that the state had purchased the kits because of concerns that the federal government "or somebody else" would take them. "We kept it under wraps," Polis said in the interview.
"The danger with the feds and the FEMA in particular is they often, you know, go to the front of the line in acquisitions," Polis told Warner. "This is what happened to us with regard to a ventilator acquisition where, you know, we were basically told by the legitimate company and the CEO that, look, FEMA has delayed all the state orders. So, you know, it's not canceled. Maybe you'll get it someday in six months. But basically FEMA is buying our entire production for four months. We can't fulfill yours. So yes, we don't talk about things till they're here. I guess for two reasons. One is we don't really know that we have until they're here because you never know what's happened with the global supply chain. But the other is, yeah, we don't want to give the competition, which could mean other countries, could mean our own country, could mean other states. We don't want to give him a heads up of what we're doing."
Polis said Friday that the state will continue to make those purchases in secret and wait to announce until those supplies have arrived in the state.