4 emergency regulations for Fort Collins’ response to COVID-19

Samantha Ye

With Fort Collins in local emergency mode, the City has approved several emergency regulations to protect and aid public health during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As of March 30, Fort Collins had 62 confirmed resident cases of the novel coronavirus and two deaths, according to the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment. There are five reported deaths in Larimer County.

Ad

City Manager Darin Atteberry signed a formal Proclamation of Local Emergency on March 13 and has issued related measures over the last two weeks.

These are the changes to know:

1. Utilities won’t leave you in the dark over missed payments

Fort Collins Utilities, which manages most resident electricity and water services, will not disconnect  customers over late or lack of payment until further notice. Their webpage encourages customers to reach out for assistance or make a payment arrangement if it is difficult to pay the bills at this time.

Time-of-day pricing will continue as normal, however. Through April, electricity use from 5-9 p.m. on weekdays will be about three times the price of use during off-peak hours. According to Utilities, customers can save money by shifting their electric use to these off-peak hours or by reducing overall use.

2. All Transfort services are now free to ride

The City is waiving all fares for the MAX, the FLEX, Transfort bus routes and Dial-A-Ride trips. 

This is to help those who must continue using transportation to provide or access necessary services, according to City Council and staff. 

As of April 1, all routes are running as normal except for the late night GOLD route, which has been canceled, according to the RideTransfort website. The South Transit Center and Downtown Transit Center buildings are also closed to the public.

Buses are undergoing nightly disinfection using an electrostatic spray method to fully cover every surface, according to the City website. Riders are asked to stay at least 6 feet away from other customers and Transfort staff. They should also board from the rear doors unless they are using a mobility device.

3. Northside Aztlan Community Center authorized to house people experiencing homelessness

The City-owned center will serve as a 24/7 daytime and overnight homeless shelter until April 10, according to a City press release

Having a “healthy and safe place to rest” will help those experiencing homelessness abide by professional social distancing recommendations and limit the potential spread of COVID-19, the release states. 

Ad

During this week’s City Council meeting, Councilmember Emily Gorgol inquired about using vacant hotels for additional housing during this time, but City staff said no hotels had expressed willingness to provide their rooms yet.

For an overnight stay, the Northside Aztlan Center will only house men, and the women’s overnight shelter is at the Fort Collins Rescue Mission and Community of Christ from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m.

As for food, the FCRM will still serve daily breakfasts and dinners. The Northside Aztlan Center will provide sack lunches at noon.

The shelter will be run by the Murphy Center and Catholic Charities.

The full schedule is as such:

  • Day shelter: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. 
  • Evening shelter: 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Overnight shelter: 9 p.m. – 8 a.m.

4. People can live in RVs outside private properties as a quarantine option

As long as you get written permission from the private property owner, recreational vehicles can be parked on said private property for social distancing or physical quarantine use. 

That means people can live, work and sleep in RVs, which are designed for camping or other extended living purposes. The order lifts some of the City’s restrictions on extended camping in an RV, namely the limit of seven consecutive days of camping or 14 days a year. 

RVs should not obstruct pedestrian or vehicular traffic or block the view of an intersection or traffic control device. They cannot be parked on public property or violate other camping regulations, according to the City press release.

Other things to know

Local police are not enforcing stay-at-home orders through traffic stops

Larimer County has issued a stay-at-home order effective through April 17. People are asked to only leave their homes for food or essential activities, according to The Collegian.

However, Fort Collins Police Services is not conducting traffic stops to check if people are adhering to this order, according to their public statements. If you are pulled over for a standard traffic violation, police still do not require any proof of your employment or paperwork to show that you have an essential job. 

Officers are “relying on our residents to take these provisions seriously for the health of everyone in our community,” according to their statement. Unless they see obvious violations like big group gatherings, FCPS is not actively searching for stay-at-home violations. 

FCPS has received reports of a police impersonator claiming to be conducting a COVID-19 “stay-home compliance check,” according to a press release. The suspect was described as a white male, approximately 45-50 years old and 6 feet tall with an athletic build.

The City encourages anyone who has been pulled over for a “stay-home compliance check” to call 970-221-6543 or contact Crime Stoppers of Larimer County.

City volunteer services are connecting people with assistance

Through an expansion of the Adopt-A-Neighbor program, Fort Collins is connecting volunteers with people who need assistance doing basic tasks like grocery shopping during the pandemic. 

People can apply to be connected with a neighbor through the City website. Volunteers go through a free background check and receive guidance on how to operate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Atteberry said everyone who has applied for assistance so far has been connected to a volunteer. 

Samantha Ye can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @samxye4.