July 10, 2020 Pueblo, CO – Pueblo County and the City of Pueblo are working collaboratively with the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment to enforce the state mandated Public Health Orders.
“We have a number of businesses who are investing money, time and resources to ensure they are complying with the public health orders but there are still a few businesses who choose to ignore these orders,” said Randy Evetts, public health director for the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment.
Evetts said in an effort to protect the health of the community and even the playing field for all businesses, the health department will continue to investigate all reports of violations of the public health orders. The goal is voluntary compliance. However, businesses who continue to ignore the orders will be issued a notice of violation and can face a court appearance and/or a fine.
“Specifically we receive a number of complaints daily regarding employees not wearing masks as required, lack of attention to capacity limits, and other violations of the Public Health Orders. These orders are state mandates not just guidelines,” said Evetts. “First we try to educate our businesses about the orders and provide technical assistance to help them comply. When that is not successful and we continue to receive complaints, our team of inspectors will investigate and if necessary issue a notice of violation. If the violations are not corrected, then tickets will be issued and civil or criminal actions may be taken.”
Public health officials along with local law enforcement and the 10th Judicial District Attorney’s Office continue to work collaboratively to ensure the health and safety of the community by supporting the enforcement of the public health orders.
“All of our agencies have worked to educate the public on the dangers of the coronavirus and the community has largely cooperated with our efforts,” said District Attorney Jeff Chostner. “To the extent that some individuals or businesses have not complied with the Governor’s health directives, all of us will use the authority that has been granted us by the Legislature to apply the necessary sanctions for the health and benefit of county residents. In some cases that might mean civil action, in others criminal. All will depend on the facts of each situation, but enforcement will be applied as necessary to effect public health for our community.”
Mayor Nick Gradisar said he strongly supports enforcement efforts and added the City of Pueblo will be hiring 10 COVID-19 Education and Enforcement technicians to ensure local businesses are aware of the requirements of the Pueblo County variance. The variance Pueblo County received allows for fewer restrictions in indoor and outdoor spaces as compared to the state’s public health order.
“Our goal is to first educate the business community and secondly, to enforce those requirements,” Gradisar said. “A business that fails to follow the rules will jeopardize their license to do business in the City of Pueblo, or their liquor license if they have one.”
Gradisar added “We want to have a thriving economy in Pueblo, even during this pandemic, but that can only happen if everyone is careful and follows the rules. I want our establishments to know that someone is watching and that we will respond to complaints in a timely manner.”
Per the state public health order, all employees are required to wear a mask when working and it is highly recommended the public to wear masks when away from home, including when going into businesses, to help reduce the spread of the virus.
“The more precautions the general public takes, the greater chance we have of opening more businesses and keeping them open,” said Pueblo County Commissioner Garrison Ortiz.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing a cloth face mask especially in indoor public settings and businesses where people are in close contact and proper social distancing cannot always be maintained. The virus is primarily spread through droplets. Wearing a facial covering keeps the droplets that may contain the virus from spreading. Wearing a cloth face covering will help protect people around you, including those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and workers who frequently come into the close contact with other people.