Colorado Gov. Jared Polis defended Sunday his decision to gradually reopen the state beginning Monday, even as some of the largest localities opted to extend their novel coronavirus restrictions.
Mr. Polis announced last week that Colorado would lift its “stay-at-home” order and move to a “safer-at-home” strategy, which includes allowing elective surgeries and the reopening of medical and dental offices, curbside non-essential retail pick-up, and in-person real-estate showings.
Not everyone is on board. Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock will retain the city’s stay-at-home order through May 8, as will some of other more populous Front Range communities, including Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder and Jefferson counties.
After CNN’s Jake Tapper asked whether his decision “could theoretically cost your constituents their lives,” Mr. Polis said that “the stay-at-home order was for nothing” if it cannot be replaced with more sustainable practices.
“We always wish, Jake, that I had next week’s information and next month’s information available to me today,” Mr. Polis said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “That’s not the world we live in. We have to make the best-informed decisions based on data and science with the information we have.”
The Democrat governor has scheduled a press conference Monday to discuss the state’s new guidelines.
Mr. Polis has emphasized that the roll-out is not a “free for all.” For example, personal services such as hair salons will still need to take social-distancing precautions, and people still will be “encouraged to stay home” rather than “ordered to stay home” except when absolutely necessary.
“What we know is that what matters a lot more than the date that the stay-at-home ends is, what we do going forward—and how we have an ongoing, sustainable way psychologically, economically and from a health perspective—to have the social distancing we need,” Mr. Polis said.
He added: “Otherwise, if we can’t succeed in doing that on an ongoing basis, the stay at home was for nothing.”
His decision places Colorado near the forefront of states moving to lift their stay-at-home orders. Most states with such orders are extending them until May.
Among states with stay-at-home orders, Georgia has been the most proactive, allowing the reopening of gyms and personal services like hair salons on Friday, with plans to lift restrictions on bars, theaters and dine-in restaurants on Monday, albeit with “social-distancing and sanitation mandates.”
In Colorado, Mr. Hancock extended Denver’s stay-at-home order on Friday, saying that the city needed more time to expand its medical response by increasing its testing to 1,000 tests per day and procuring more personal-protection equipment, as well as preparing detailed guidances for businesses and residents.
“Our priority is to keep our residents safe and to save lives,” said Mr. Hancock in a statement. “This virus is not going away and we need to be prepared for the long-term impacts.”
Boulder County said Saturday it would allow non-critical businesses to begin curbside pick-up, and reclassify such trips as “necessary travel,” but that it would otherwise maintain its stay-at-home order “to develop clear strategies and guidelines for preventing a surge of COVID-19 cases.”
“We’re in a no-win situation,” said Boulder County public-health executive director Jeff Zayach. “I know the livelihoods of many people have been significantly impacted by COVID-19. We hope that including the option for curbside delivery for non-critical businesses will help our communities start getting back on their feet.”
Mr. Polis pointed out that “we’re a very, big diverse state” when it comes to coronavirus cases. While Denver County leads the state with about 2,500 cases, he said, “we also have counties in our state with zero, like Bent County.”
Under his gradual roll-out, Mr. Polis said last week he hopes to allow restaurants, bars and nightclubs to reopen under social-distancing measures by mid-May, although he declined to give a specific date. Offices will be allowed to reopen at half-staff on May 4.
Mr. Polis also emphasized that businesses are under no obligation to open.
“Some might feel there’s not enough customers, or they don’t want to put themselves at risk,” Mr. Polis said, as reported by Colorado Public Radio.
Colorado has recorded nearly 13,000 cases of the novel coronavirus, with 2,410 hospitalizations and 672 deaths as of Sunday, according to the state Department of Public Health.