GUNNISON COUNTY, Colo. — Gunnison County residents now have a new reason to stay inside, and officials want to make sure the message is heard: non-residents and tourists must stay out.
A new public health order enacted on Friday gives up to 18 months in jail and a possible 5,000 dollar fine to people violating the order.
It requires all non-residents of Gunnison County to leave as soon as they can or request a waiver explaining their reasons to stay.
Non-essential businesses such as hotels, day-care centers are required to shut down under the order.
It’s the first within the state to impose criminal charges for a violation, and goes well beyond previous state-issued orders.
A spokesman for the county’s emergency operations center explains the necessity of the order.
“Our goal is to maintain the health and safety of our residents and the integrity of our healthcare system. To that end, there’s some language in that healthcare order that allows for folks to apply for an exemption. We realize there are certain things going on with our residents that may require that. We want to give people that option, if needed.” – Daniel Kreykeys — Public Information Officer, Gunnison County Emergency Operations Center
It’s unclear how the order will be enforced and if the county intends to follow through with charging violators.
Officials are also worried about out-of-county residents from lower elevations isolating at their vacation homes, preferring most people to stay away from the county entirely.
Gunnison was one of the first COVID-19 epicenters within the state.