As COVID numbers increase, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) amended its Safer at Home Public Health Order in late October, to limit personal gatherings to no more than 10 people from a maximum of two households in addition to the mask and social distancing requirements.  Certain counties, like Denver, Arapahoe, Adams, and Boulder instituted stricter public health orders on gathering sizes. For the City and County of Denver, all public and private gatherings of people who are not members of a single household are prohibited, except for limited purposes.  Denver also enacted the “Home by 10” Public Health Order starting on November 8 and effective until December 7, 2020, requiring residents of Denver to remain at home between 10 pm and 5 am. 

While the flurry of Orders is not surprising in light of the situation, what is surprising is the expectations of some of the municipal entities. Cities and Counties, hoping to flatten the curve once again are attempting to require stricter enforcement by broadening enforcement responsibility. Since the enactment of the Orders in Spring of this year, enforcement has been presumed to be squarely within the realm of local law enforcement and Public Health Officials.  However, recently Denver high-rise condominium and apartment buildings are seeing Public Health Officials investigating compliance with COVID guidelines and ordering Association managers to enforce the current Public Health Orders not just on staff but residents of the Association in their use of the common elements.

COVID orders apply to any enclosed indoor area, either publicly or privately owned, outside of a residence or hotel room. This includes common areas owned and managed by an Association.  And while many Associations have common outdoor spaces, the issue is more involved when it concerns high rise buildings, condominiums, and apartments with shared entryways, hallways, and elevators.  Public Health Officials are advising managers that they have a responsibility to enforce the Public Health Orders in these spaces.  This means that managers must now monitor and enforce the Public Health Orders among residents.  This includes but is not limited to enforcing the mask mandate, making sure elevators are used one family at a time, limiting congregation of groups in the lobby, hallway, or entryway, enforcing physical distancing requirements, and posting signs at entrances regarding mask requirements along with presumably controlling visitors to the Units and size of gatherings.  

Where failure of residents to comply would normally simply mean reporting the violations to law enforcement or public health officials, the City of Denver wants the Association manager to take an active enforcement approach using the existing fine structure to compel compliance. This creates additional responsibilities for managers to be aware of the Orders specific to their county and monitor and enforce accordingly.  While we have only seen this in Denver, it is presumed that if the COVID numbers continue at their current pace, all managers of Associations with shared indoor space will be responsible for enforcement of the Public Health Orders. 

Please contact an Altitude attorney, at 303.432.9999 or [email protected] with any questions about the updated order and what this may mean for your community.

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