Gov. Jared Polis announced Wednesday afternoon that he was instituting a statewide stay-at-home order that will apply to all 5.7 million Coloradans starting Thursday, March 26 at 6 a.m. and lasting through April 11.

The announcement, which Polis was hesitant to make even earlier this week, comes as the breadth and severity of the state’s COVID-19 outbreak has increased significantly. In updated data released on Wednesday, the total number of confirmed cases jumped to 1,086, with 147 hospitalizations (double the number from Tuesday), and 19 deaths.

“We’re issuing this stay-at-home order to save lives,” Polis said during his press conference on Wednesday afternoon. “It could be your aunt or uncle, could be your grandparent, could be your own life.”

The governor’s order follows similar mandates put in place this week by several metro area counties. On Monday, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced a stay-at-home order through April 11 after reports of social gatherings in local parks over the weekend. Jefferson, Adams, Arapahoe, Douglas, Boulder, and Broomfield counties soon followed suit, announcing their own orders for residents to stay home until April 17. And in the high country, which has seen some of the highest rates of transmission, San Miguel County has instituted formal stay-at-home orders, while officials in Gunnison, Eagle, Summit, Pitkin, and San Juan counties have implemented a variety of measures to slow the spread of the virus.

Similar to these localities’ orders, the governor’s mandate provides certain exemptions for when residents can and should leave their homes, such as for medical appointments, to go grocery shopping or pick up food from restaurants, to exercise outside while practicing safe social distancing, and going to work if your job is considered essential.

The order also calls for the closure of all businesses that do not serve an essential function. The official document provides an extensive list of these exemptions, but some examples include medical providers, banks, grocery stores, government services, childcare facilities, pharmacies, veterinary services, shelter operators, food banks, transportation services, hotels, essential public services (such as utilities, trash, and mail and shipping services), and construction.

And yes, under the state order, liquor stores, marijuana dispensaries, and even gun shops are considered essential.

Polis reiterated on Wednesday that the state’s response has suffered from limited testing for the coronavirus, noting that the number of cases is likely much higher than what is being reported. The governor also expressed concerns over the state’s supplies of personal protective equipment and ventilators, which makes it even more important for Coloradans to stay home now in order to “flatten the curve” and ease the strain on the medical system.

This is a developing story. It was last updated on March 25 at 8:45 p.m.

(MORE: See 5280′s full coverage of COVID-19)

Jay Bouchard
Jay Bouchard
Jay Bouchard is a Denver-based writer and a former editor on 5280's digital team.