During a press conference on Friday, Mayor Michael Hancock announced a new public health order requiring Denver residents to be home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. The new “home-by-10” mandate will go into effect on Sunday and last for 30 days, though it will not apply to the Thanksgiving holiday.
“I am not going to mince any words here when it comes to the coronavirus,” said Hancock. “We are on a dangerous track. Across the state, including here in the metro area, hospitalizations have increased 40 percent in just the last week.”
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The mayor went on to explain that the main goal of the order is to limit late-night gatherings at bars and restaurants, as well as private get-togethers with people from multiple households. He and other city officials hope the new order will get everyone to act with urgency, so that alarming trends in COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations can be reversed and another stay-at-home order can be avoided.
The mandate does include exemptions for critical businesses, people returning home from work, first responders, and anyone who may be traveling. It also puts in place a few new restrictions that don’t relate to time: Spectators are prohibited at all non-professional sporting events, including CHSAA-sanctioned activities, and rec sports leagues are not allowed to operate. Also, bars can only allow on-premises consumption of alcohol (i.e. at a seated table) if they provide food from a licensed food vendor.
City officials stopped short of calling the order a curfew but did note they will work will local law enforcement to uphold it. “This is not about issuing tickets or closing businesses,” said Bob McDonald, the city’s public health director. “Enforcement will only be used as necessary for the most egregious situations.”
News of restrictions in Denver comes just a day after Governor Jared Polis held a virtual press conference to announce that the state’s COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations had reached an all-time high. State health officials estimate about one in every 100 Coloradans is infected with the virus, and there are currently 894 people hospitalized, topping the last record set on April 14 of 884. During the same briefing, state epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy said, “I want to emphasize that we believe there is more COVID circulating in Colorado right now than at the beginning of the pandemic.”
McDonald echoed the same sentiment on Friday, saying Denver-area hospitals could reach capacity by the end of December if the current trend continues.
“We beat the curve once,” said Hancock, “and we can do it again.”