As COVID-19 cases surge locally and across the country, Denver has announced new restrictions to curb the spread of the virus. In a Friday afternoon press conference, Mayor Michael Hancock along with Bob McDonald, executive director of Denver Department of Health and Environment, announced increased measures in regards to mask-wearing and group gathering. “We are higher than we’ve ever been,” said Hancock in regards to Denver’s average daily case rate.
Effective immediately, individuals must wear masks when outdoors while congregating with anyone except people in their immediate household or when they are alone.
“I want to clarify that further, if I leave my place of employment by myself, to walk down the 16th street mall, I will not be required to wear a face covering. If I were to leave with some co-workers to go down the 16th street mall, then I will be required — we’d all be required — to wear a face covering,” explained McDonald.
The other restriction reduces the number of people allowed to gather in unregulated public and private gatherings from 10 to five people. The exception includes places that need to submit plans to the state and/or have regulations in place to curb the spread of COVID-19. Exemptions include spaces and events like organized athletic programming (i.e. everything from youth soccer to college football), restaurants and classrooms. Instead, this new measure is meant to curb un-regulated spaces like parks and residential gatherings. According to the City, enforcement will be increased even against individuals in residential settings.
“We are going to increase the number of members from the Department of Safety to proactively check our parks, 16th Street Mall and many places in Denver popular for gathering. Again, if individuals, even at the individual level, if they are congregating in numbers not allowed, they run the risk of being issued a summons to court and that activity [and] the large gathering would be broken up. Members of the Department of Safety will proactively respond to calls where there are violations of the public health order even in residential settings,” explained McDonald.
So for example, if five people (or more) living in your household are present, you will not be allowed to have additional guests over or congregate with them in unregulated public settings like parks. But, say you only have three, you will be allowed two guests. McDonald clarified, that in many cases daily life will not be disrupted.
“It’s okay to go to your favorite restaurant, it’s okay to go for a run to the park, it’s okay to play basketball as long as you’d adhere to guidelines, it’s okay to go to your favorite gym… so many things can be done as long as we’re following the right restrictions for those venues.”
“[With] these additional steps we’re aiming to strike a balance between keeping people healthy and frankly keeping Denver’s economy alive,” said Hancock.
The gathering measure will expire on November 16 and will then be re-evaluated to see if it needs to be extended. The mask order will be in place until further notice.