While urging Coloradans to continue practicing social distancing, Gov. Jared Polis issued an executive order Sunday requiring all "noncritical workplaces" in Colorado to reduce their in-person workforce by 50%.


The order takes effect Tuesday through April 10.


It directs all employers to implement remote work options "to the greatest extent possible." If remote work is not practical or possible, employers are encouraged to stagger work schedules to reduce the proximity of employees during work hours and to keep employees on payroll. The order does not apply to employers that can certify its workers are no closer than six feet from one another during their shift, the governor’s office said.


Critical workplaces that are exempt from the order include health care, financial institutions, news media, providers for economically disadvantaged populations, construction, public safety, manufacturing and certain retail.


"My team is moving as fast as they can to build a new Colorado paradigm to ensure that we can look more like South Korea’s successful containment strategy, and less like the public health disaster that is crippling Italy right now," the governor told reporters.


Polis said if these steps are not taken — especially social distancing — it's very likely the state's health care system would become overwhelmed.


"It's also important to keep emotional connection. That means using FaceTime and video chat. We all need that fellowship now. We're in it for the long-term," he said.


As of Sunday, Colorado had 591 cases of coronavirus confirmed by the state’s lab. Pueblo County continues to report three cases, while none are in Bent and Otero counties. Six people have died statewide.


Polis on Sunday also issued an executive order immediately suspending in-person learning in public and private schools across the state from through April 17.


Colorado school districts and the Charter School Institute are ordered to provide alternative learning opportunities. The order also directs the Commissioner of Education to issue guidance to support P-12 school systems in developing plans to assist families and students in accessing alternative learning, providing free and reduced lunch and breakfast, and offering waivers for instructional time as appropriate.


"We know school leaders, educators and families will have a lot of questions about how to support their students’ learning at home during this unprecedented time," said Education Commissioner Katy Anthes. "The department is working on guidance and developing resources to support our schools and students, and it will be available very soon."


Polis also announced the launch of Help Colorado Now, an effort where Coloradans can donate or volunteer, as well as the Colorado COVID Relief Fund, which has already raised nearly $3 million to help Coloradans impacted by the coronavirus. The website is HelpColoradoNow.org


"We are in this together and the state is taking the necessary actions to slow the spread of this disease," Polis said.


The governor also extended the suspension of downhill ski area operations through April 6.


Attorney General Phil Weiser this weekend called for a statewide pause on eviction proceedings during the COVID-19 state of emergency, saying the policy has been adopted by Denver and Mesa, Weld and Boulder counties.


Pueblo Mayor Nick Gradisar on Sunday encouraged residents to watch tonight’s City Council meeting at 7 p.m. on the city’s Facebook page, at www.pueblo.us, or at government access Comcast Channel 17 instead of going in person.


The Pueblo Municipal Court and probation division at 200 S. Main St. announced it’s closed through April 24. For more information about how to handle a pending case, call 719-562-3810.


rlopez@chieftain.com


Twitter: @lopezricardojr