Hair cuts, in person shopping allowed in much of Colorado — but not metro Aurora

Still closed in Aurora, stores like these were able to open outside much of the metro area Friday as pandemic restrictions were eased by Gov. Jared Polis — Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado

DENVER  |  Getting a hair cut and shopping in person at retail stores were allowed again in much of Colorado starting Friday as the state eases restrictions set up to stop the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

However, stay-at-home orders remained in place for Aurora and several surrounding Denver counties, only essential businesses such as grocery, liquor and hardware stores are open there.

Elective surgeries and curbside pickup at retail shops were allowed to begin outside the Denver area on Monday in the first wave of the relaxation of restrictions under Democratic Gov. Jared Polis’ “safer-at-home” order.

Offices can reopen starting Monday but only with half the usual staff to allow for social distancing.

Goodwill was reopening 16 stores around Colorado on Friday with changes to protect people’s safety. Dressing rooms were closed and one-way aisles set up to make it easier for customers to stay 6 feet  apart.

The re-openings came as Polis announced nearly $289 million in cuts to the current fiscal year budget to offset declining revenue due to the pandemic. Polis also extended limits on evictions, foreclosures and utility shutoffs to help residents whose income is impacted by the pandemic.

The spending cuts affect numerous agencies and projects but don’t include layoffs or furloughs of state employees. The governor’s budget director, Lauren Larson, said in a letter to lawmakers released late Thursday that rapidly declining revenues and a drain on the state’s $814 million general fund reserve forced the cuts.

Some $183 million of the budget reductions affect Medicaid, the insurance program for low-income residents.

The cuts apply to the state budget that runs through June 30. Legislative analysts already have proposed significant cuts to existing programs for the Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee, which plans to craft a balanced budget this month for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Colorado unemployment claims have reached historic levels since the pandemic hit. Nearly 360,000 people filed unemployment claims over the last five weeks, the Department of Labor and Employment said Thursday. A quarterly business report released this week by the secretary of state’s office and the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business suggests a double-digit drop is looming for the state’s gross domestic product.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.