Beer Bust in Denver Parks! No Liquor Allowed Through July 23.

A stroll in Cheesman: leashed dogs okay, but no booze.
A stroll in Cheesman: leashed dogs okay, but no booze. Lauren Antonoff
Mayor Michael Hancock will announce later this morning that he's extending Denver's stay-at-home order from April 30 through May 8. But the bigger news came yesterday:

No liquor in Denver parks through July 23.

Denver's parks have remained open through the stay-at-home order; Hancock has encouraged residents to get out and get exercise (while observing appropriate social-distancing practices) in one of the city's many nearby parks; there's a park within a ten-minute walk of nearly every residence in Denver. While Civic Center Park and surrounding areas remain closed for public-health reasons, Hancock even reopened the city's golf courses on April 23.*

But concern over residents behaving badly in other open spaces has resulted in "some new guidelines and restrictions" from Denver Parks and Recreation.

For starters, the department has issued a temporary directive to prohibit the possession and consumption of beer, wine and champagne in parks and other outdoor public spaces the agency manages. "It is intended to support and promote the stay at home and social distancing directives and ensure the safety of outdoor public spaces during the emergency," the department notes.

"Not allowing alcohol in the parks is to discourage gatherings and encourage residents to practice physical distancing of 6+ feet or more to prevent transmission of the virus," adds Parks and Rec spokesperson Cyndi Karvaski.

Well, it was fun while it lasted. Just last summer, Denver finally allowed champagne, wine and full-strength beer in the city's parks, in a major rewrite of rules that had only allowed 3.2 beer in the parks. But in 2018, the Colorado Legislature voted to allow 1,600 grocery and convenience stores across the state to begin selling full-strength beer in 2019, and that was a death knell for 3.2 beer, a bizarre bastard child of Prohibition.

In response, Denver updated its rules to allow not just full-strength beer, but wine and champagne. No hard liquor, though, and no beverages at all in glass containers.

And now alcohol of any kind has been canned in parks for the next two months. Here's the summary of the city's new guidelines issued on April 23:
Alcohol (including beer, wine and champagne) is not allowed

If you are sick, do not visit the parks

Separate at least 6 feet from others at all times

Do not gather or travel in groups

Group sports and activities are prohibited

Shared use of equipment is not allowed (i.e.: frisbees, footballs, etc.)

Bring your own hand sanitizer/washing supplies

Leash your dog to prevent accidental cross-contamination with others

Park hours are 5:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m.
The department notes that Denver will continue to monitor the parks and enforce social distancing. And in fact, those who notice violations should call 311.

*By the way, golf courses do not fall under the temporary beer prohibition.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun