Updated April 22, 2020
Washington, D.C.—Going against guidance from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Colorado Governor Jared Polis has ordered health food stores selling only health and nutrition-related products in the state to close during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Natural Products Association (NPA). NPA added that Colorado joins Massachusetts and Nevada in ordering the closure of most businesses for an indefinite period except for supermarkets, pharmacies, restaurants offering carryout or delivery, medical equipment stores, gas stations, banks, and liquor stores.
The updated public health order from Colorado, issued on April 9, 2020, specifies that establishments engaged in the retail sale of food and any other household
consumer products (such as cleaning and personal care products) are critical retail, but that this excludes “retailers of only health and nutrition-related products (vitamins,
minerals, supplements, herbs, sports nutrition, diet and energy products).”
NPA outlined aspects of the DHS guidance that are relevant to health food stores and the nutritional supplement supply chain:
- Manufacturer workers for health manufacturing (including biotechnology companies), materials and parts suppliers, logistics and warehouse operators, distributors of medical equipment (including those who test and repair), personal protective equipment (PPE), isolation barriers, medical gases, pharmaceuticals (including materials used in radioactive drugs), dietary supplements, blood and blood products, vaccines, testing materials, laboratory supplies, cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting or sterilization supplies, and tissue and paper towel products.
- Workers supporting groceries, pharmacies, convenience stores, and other retail (including unattended and vending) that sells human food, animal/pet food and pet supply, and beverage products, including retail customer support service and information technology support staff necessary for online orders, pickup and delivery.
“Governor Polis’s decision is inconsistent with the federal government and other states and amounts to an assault on small businesses,” Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., President and CEO of NPA, said in a press release. “We hope that is not the Governor’s intention since he chaired the Dietary Supplement Caucus during his congressional days, so it’s unclear as to why his latest order singled out such businesses as non-essential. He understands we’re regulated as foods.”
As WholeFoods Magazine previously reported, a similar action was taken by Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak to close health food stores in that state. NPA launched a grassroots campaign to helps ensure consumers in Nevada have access to nutritional supplements, healthy foods, and other health-related products, with more than 2,000 letters sent.
NPA has now launched a campaign for Colorado, stressing, “Governor Polis, in defiance of federal guidance, has deemed retail stores that provide health and wellness products like vitamins and minerals, water, healthy food options, hand sanitizer, and other health-related products non-essential and has forced them to close down. These community businesses are vital resources for Coloradans in times like these, especially for people who are at risk and rely on their neighborhood health food store. Don’t let Governor Polis take health choices away from your family. Send him this letter demanding he follows federal guidance and reopens health food stores across Colorado.”