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State Takes Steps To Protect Residents From 'Unheralded' Economic Toll Of Virus

Scott Franz/Capitol Coverage
Gov. Jared Polis talks to reporters about the state's response to COVID-19 on Friday, March 20 at the state Capitol.

Gov. Jared Polis is issuing several new orders to try and limit the economic damage from the spread of the coronavirus.

Polis is encouraging property owners to stop charging penalties for late rent payments until April 30 as thousands of workers lose their jobs. He says tenants shouldn't be evicted if they can't pay.

He is also ordering the Colorado State Patrol and other state law enforcement agencies to stop carrying out all eviction and foreclosure orders unless they are necessary to protect the public.

"We have to prioritize our law enforcement resources during this crisis, and clearly the priority should not be on enforcing eviction orders," Polis said. "You should not lose your home or your utilities simply because a restaurant was forced to close down to prevent hundreds or thousands of Coloradans from dying."

Polis is also trying to ease the financial hit on restaurants that have been ordered to close their dining areas until April 30.

He said he is suspending licensing requirements to allow restaurants to deliver beer and wine and offer it with take out orders.

The order applies only to restaurants that are already licensed to sell alcohol.

Polis did not announce a shelter in place order. But on Thursday, he did extend the closures of restaurants, casinos, theaters and other large gathering places until April 30. He added salons, spas and massage and tattoo parlors to the order.

Polis is also working on a number of other actions in response to COVID-19, including:

  • Expediting the payment of state unemployment claims
  • Extending the deadline to file your state income taxes for 90 days. The new deadline is July 15.
  • Creating a new economic task force to make policy recommendations to help the economy recover after the spread of the coronavirus, led by former Denver mayor Federico Pena.

Regarding the new task force, Pena told reporters the virus' impact on businesses and individuals will be "unheralded."
"This is extremely complicated," Pena said. "The good news is Colorado's economy is more diverse. But we are not exempt from the challenge."

Scott Franz is an Investigative Reporter with KUNC.
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