Gov. Polis extends last call for alcohol to 11 p.m.

By: - August 21, 2020 3:11 pm

Gov. Jared Polis gives an update on the extent of the coronavirus pandemic and the extent of the state’s wildfires on Aug. 18, 2020. (Moe Clark, Colorado Newsline)

Gov. Jared Polis will extend a last-call order for restaurants — put in place in an effort to reduce coronavirus transmission among young adults — with an amendment that allows businesses to serve drinks until 11 p.m., slightly later than the previous 10 p.m. cut-off.

“It’s very important that all those restaurants and bars observe the social distancing protocols because there’s no fooling the data. There’s no fooling the math,” Polis said at a news briefing Aug. 21, the day the original order was set to expire.

“If there’s huge outbreaks, it means that we can’t handle as a society those kinds of inebriated late-night activities, but hopefully it’ll provide folks a little bit more breathing room to get to 11 o’clock for last call, in a safe way,” Polis said.

Polis’ original last-call order, announced July 21, survived a court challenge last month. The new, amended order applies for at least the next 30 days, unless it’s changed again.

“While The Tavern League would prefer a midnight last call, we are very pleased that 11:00 p.m. is a step in the right direction,” Stephanie Hicks, the league’s executive director, said in an emailed statement. “Every hour counts in the fight for economic survival and we greatly appreciate Governor Polis’ efforts to remain flexible during this extremely challenging time.”

Hicks said the group, which had filed a lawsuit over the original last-call order — later upheld by a Denver District Court judge — did not plan to pursue additional legal action against the amended order. Another lawsuit over indoor capacity limits is still pending, Hicks added.

New demographic data available on the state’s COVID-19 website shows that fewer new cases are among people in the 20- to 39-year-old age group. In the week of July 19, 20- to 39-year-olds comprised 48% of new cases. In the week of Aug. 9, they made up 39% of new cases. State health officials believe the decision to mandate an earlier last call for alcohol could be contributing to that apparent decrease in transmission among young adults.

“The past few weeks, cases have gone down, and as a result, the policy is being modified,” Polis said, referring to the amended last-call order. “Of course, we’ll continue to evaluate future steps. My hope is it can be, you know, midnight (for last call) as soon as possible, and hopefully the data will bear that out.”

Polis also suggested that a mask mandate, which he recently extended to Sept. 13, could also be contributing to decreases in new cases.

Through Aug. 19, Colorado had 54,230 cases of COVID-19 and 1,815 deaths due to the disease, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The three-day moving average of daily new cases in the state is 260, down from 323 on Aug. 12.

A daily average of 527 new cases was reported for the three-day period ending July 16, when Polis issued the original mask order.

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Faith Miller
Faith Miller

Faith Miller was a reporter with Colorado Newsline covering the Colorado Legislature, immigration and other stories.