As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continued to spike, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced that all residents would need to be home by 10 p.m. except for essential business, under a 30-day public health order that applies starting Nov. 8.
The mayor insisted the order was not a curfew, but a public health order — though it will be enforceable.
“You’re not going to hear me talk about curfews,” Hancock said. “You’re going to hear me ask people to take personal responsibility, be home by 10 o’clock and not to commingle households.”
If people want to walk their dog or go on a run at 11 p.m., that’s fine, he said. Thanksgiving Day will also be exempt from the “home by 10” rule.
Bob McDonald, executive director of the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, expects the city will see a high level of compliance — though any violation of a public health order comes with a potential fine of up to $999 or a 300-day jail sentence.
The order also prohibits recreational athletic events, precludes spectators from attending high school and college sporting events, and closes bars that cannot meet public health requirements for seating, food service and mingling among patrons, Hancock said.
The city and county of Denver reported an average of 418 cases of COVID-19 each day of the past week, according to data from the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment.
That puts Denver’s two-week incidence rate — one of the key metrics the state looks at when determining county level restrictions — at 683 cases per 100,000 people. That’s far above the state threshold for placing the county under a stay-at-home order, but that has not happened yet. The last time any Colorado counties were under stay-at-home orders was in March and April, when the public health order applied statewide.
“I’m not going to mince any words here when it comes to the spread of the coronavirus,” Hancock said. “We’re on a very dangerous path. We’re seeing rapid, significant increases in the number of people getting sick, and many of those people ended up in the hospital.”
On Nov. 5, Colorado broke a record set in April for the most people hospitalized for confirmed cases of COVID-19 on a single day.
A few days before that, Pueblo’s mayor ordered a 10 p.m. curfew in the southern Colorado city, in hopes of keeping Pueblo County from moving to a more restrictive level of the state’s COVID-19 dial system. The dial system determines capacity thresholds at businesses and other public health measures.
Pueblo County is still under Safer at Home: Level 2 restrictions, but Denver was recently moved to Safer at Home: Level 3 — the second-highest level of restrictions using the dial system, after Stay at Home. McDonald said an eventual stay-at-home order was not inevitable despite the city’s worrying metrics, which include a test positivity rate above 9%.
“It’s the right thing to do to put everything in place that we can to avoid a stay-at-home order,” McDonald said of Denver’s new “home by 10” order, which he signed. “I hope that this will do it, but … it’s dependent on everybody’s cooperation.”