DENVER–Mayor Michael Hancock ordered residents of Denver to stay home except for essential travel and limited outdoor exercise at a press conference Monday. The order begins at 5 p.m. Tuesday and continues through April 10 unless extended.
“This isn’t a recommendation anymore,” said Hancock. “If you’re sick, stay home. If you’re not sick, stay home.”
One of the triggers, said Hancock, was loosely-organized sporting activities like volleyball games, pick-up basketball games and picnics at some city parks over the weekend.
Hancock has been in close daily contact with Colorado Governor Jared Polis as well as the mayors of surrounding cities.
Polis has not set a statewide stay-at-home order but has ordered companies to cut their workforce by half, among other emergency measures already implemented, including increasing levels of testing and deploying of the Colorado National Guard to assist medical authorities with logistics and manpower where needed.
“These are not easy decisions,” said Hancock. “There are three things taken into consideration.”
Hancock referenced the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic that is estimated to have killed 40-50 million people worldwide, SARS–Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, a viral epidemic originating in Asia in February 2003 that ultimately spread to 29 countries and resulted in 774 deaths, and “other epidemics.”
“The trends are not going in the right direction. They are not moving the needles as fast as we need them to move,” Hancock said.
Acknowledging the damage the shutdown will do to Denver’s economy Hancock said he felt he had no other choice.
“The bolder and quicker we move, the faster we can end this economic trauma in Denver,” Hancock said. “But we are with you for the long haul.”
We need voluntary compliance,” said Hancock. “We want to educate, inform and discourage residents of Denver [about the restrictions]. This is not about arresting people or criminal citations. That’s a last step for us. This is about educating people.”
Hancock said park rangers, police, business inspectors and other city employees will try a light-handed approach of educating people they find violating both the stay-at-home order and previous social distancing orders, but said that ultimately he will enforce the order, “Whenever and however we have to.”
The list of exempt essential businesses is posted at https://www.denvergov.org.
Hancock originally confirmed that recreational marijuana outlets and liquor stores would be closed, but medical marijuana outlets would remain open.
No reason was given other than that they were not deemed “essential,” but within several hours, after long lines began forming in advance of the shut-down at stores around Denver, the order was amended to allow liquor stores and recreational marijuana outlets to remain open as long as they practiced “extreme physical distancing.”
One comment seen on the livestream pointed out that liquor is now available at grocery stores as well as some convenience stores, which will remain open.
School meal distribution programs are exempt from the order, as are daycare centers and transit systems including taxis, buses, trains and rideshares.
Asked about people who live in Denver but work outside of the city, Hancock responded, “That will be problematic. I think you will see other jurisdictions beginning to follow [Denver’s plan].
Denver International Airport will remain open to travel. “There are federal rules,” said Hancock, but asked travelers to obey social distancing orders.