COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- We hear from viewers every day about their concerns regarding non-essential businesses that remain open amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you're concerned a business near you is violating a public health order, there are discrete steps you can take. Mayor John Suthers described the process in a press conference Wednesday:
- Contact the El Paso County Health Department at 719-578-3167 if you believe a non-essential business is operating in violation of a public health order.
- The health department will then contact that business to hear that business's argument as to why it qualifies for an exemption.
- If the health department determines the business does not qualify for an exemption, the business will be advised to voluntarily close.
- If the business refuses to voluntarily close, then they'll be issued a written letter from the health department directing them to close.
- If the business still refuses to close, then they'll be issued a legal summons complaint charging them with violation of a health department order.
"I would ask people not to contact the police department," said Suthers. "Particularly, obviously 911 is not the place to call if you see a couple of teenagers playing basketball in a park or something like that."
Regarding those social distancing violations, Suthers explained that parks are being patrolled.
"We do have park rangers and we do have police officers that would otherwise be assigned as school resource officers who are patrolling the parks and asking people to social distance and to make sure we don't have competitive sports [games] and things like that," he said.
Suthers' appeal against contacting police about violators doesn't jibe with what the Colorado Attorney General's Office told KRDO NewsChannel 13 on Thursday, saying that county health departments and local law enforcement agencies should be contacted fist, and the attorney general's office should be contacted only as a last resort.
Penalties for violating the governor's public health order include a $1,000 fine, a year in jail and revocation of a business license.