Local authorities won’t be conducting random traffic stops to enforce a statewide stay-at-home order that went into effect Thursday.
That’s according to Montrose Police Chief Blaine Hall and Montrose County Sheriff Gene Lillard.
But the City of Montrose is enforcing the order by working with local businesses to ensure only those deemed essential remain open. The county is looking at doing the same but, as of Thursday afternoon, hadn’t asked any businesses to shutter their doors.
“We have been since 8 a.m., and are continuing on right now, working with businesses,” Hall told the Montrose Daily Press Thursday. “We are not sending patrol officers out yet to contact businesses, and we’re hoping for businesses who have questions to please contact (City Manager) Bill Bell and (Director of Business Innovation) Chelsea Rosty.”
The list of critical workplaces exempt from the order is long, and Hall said it was not easy to understand Gov. Jared Polis’ order at first. City and county staff met together Wednesday night for about four hours, “trying to decipher the governor’s order,” Hall said.
Then an amended statement from the state came Thursday morning outlining details more clearly for those expected to enforce the order, like municipalities and counties.
“For instance, churches may have worship teams in their church with 10 individuals or fewer,” Hall said, adding that the city is encouraging folks to conduct remote video services.
But the city so far has received several calls and emails from business owners, some frustrated, asking whether they would have to close.
So far, Hall said, there haven’t been any hitches and that most businesses are complying voluntarily. In several cases, places like retail stores had already shut their doors to the public.
The police department is also “dispersing large groups.” For instance, if a patrol officer sees a large group playing volleyball at Riverbottom Park, ignoring calls to distance 6 feet apart, they will break those groups up. The police department is taking preemptive action like closing the baseball fields on Sunset Mesa.
Sheriff Lillard told the Montrose Daily Press that his deputies haven’t seen many large gatherings out in the county and that “folks are pretty much abiding by the rules.” But he said they’ll be on the lookout over the weekend at party places, like the adobes.
Hall said he’s seen different employers recently issue letters to their workers which can be given to law enforcement in case they’re pulled over.
“Montrose PD is not making those types of stops,” he said. “Not unless you’re committing a serious traffic violation or criminal offense will we be pulling people over.”
He said the only reason a police officer might ask someone where they’re traveling is “if it’s critical to the investigation.”
“Our intent is not to limit people from fulfilling essential needs, like grocery shopping,” he said.