By Brenda Johnson Brandt
The Holyoke Enterprise 

County abandons Protect Our Neighbors status to remain with Stay at Home level


August 19, 2020

Phillips County is no longer awaiting word on gaining Protect Our Neighbors certification with regard to COVID-19-related executive orders from Governor Jared Polis.

Too many strings were attached to the Governor’s Aug. 7 executive order, which amended Protect Our Neighbors status, according to Phillips County commissioner Terry Hofmeister.

While there were some things that Hofmeister said he liked in the amendment, he noted that the requirement to enforce guidelines and public health orders took it out of the realm of doability.

Law enforcement agencies in the area are not willing to sign off on the enforcement line. Hofmeister said he understands the dilemma as it’s hard to enforce every current detail, not to mention the unknown future details.

As a result, the County will stay with the Safer at Home and in the Vast, Great Outdoors level of regulation.

Among the details currently in effect are numbers restrictions for both indoor and outdoor gatherings, as well as required mask-wearing indoors in public places for those age 11 and older.

Indoor gatherings are allowed 175 people or 50 percent of capacity, while outdoor gatherings are permitted for 250 per event. Adherance to social distancing is also part of the gathering specifications.

Hofmeister pointed out that variances are no longer needed in Phillips County for gatherings within the numbers parameters.

As the two-week mark past the Phillips County Fair came and went, Hofmeister was pleased to note there were no additional COVID-19 cases in the county.

He also commended the effort of Holyoke High School student Haley Van Overbeke who pursued permission through the County and Northeast Colorado Health Department to hold an alternative prom night Aug. 8.

Plans were approved and students were able to take part in something they thought they had lost due to the coronavirus.

Other executive orders issued by Polis late last week extended a number of previous executive orders, including those that:

• Maintain eligibility for Medicaid and children’s basic health plan enrollees.

•  Expedite unemployment insurance claim processing.

• Temporarily limit certain evictions.

• Suspends statues that limit bans on open burning.

• Provide relief to public utility customers.

• Suspend statutes concerning juvenile justice, regional centers and behavioral health.

• Suspend certain regulatory statutes concerning signature collection for unaffiliated and independent candidates, and authorize the secretary of state to create temporary rules for registered electors to receive and return candidate petitions over mail and email.

• Limit in-person contact for the 2020 elections and the Secretary of State’s operations.


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