Gov. Jared Polis speaks on his plans for a greener Colorado at the Net Zero Cities event in Loveland on March 5. Ali C. M. Watkins/BizWest

Polis orders non-critical businesses to reduce in-person workforce

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DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis is ordering non-essential businesses to reduce the amount of by at least half as the spread of the COVID-19 virus grinds the state, U.S. and global economy to a virtual standstill.

Polis encouraged businesses to shift as many employees as they can to telecommuting, and asked workplaces that can’t operate online to stagger shifts and keep workers six feet apart when possible. Essential businesses, or businesses that provide base necessities for survival, are exempt from the order.

Polis also said half of the state’s governmental workers that are able to telecommute will be asked to work from home.

The order falls short of the stay-at-home orders activated by nine other states, alongside several other smaller governments. San Miguel County, one of Colorado’s largest destinations for skiing, already implemented a shelter-in-place order until April 3.

State health officials on Sunday reported 591 cases of COVID-19 out of 5,436 tests, with six dead.The Centers for Disease Control’s latest figures from Friday show the U.S. has 15,219 cases and 201 fatalities so far.

Efforts to slow the spread of the virus have dragged down entire sectors of the economy and everyday life across the country. Over 25,000 Coloradans filed first-time unemployment insurance claims last week alone, signalling a rapid and deep economic slowdown.