Denver's Civic Center Park and nearby areas are now closed indefinitely to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The decision was made April 11, and city workers immediately started barring public access to Civic Center Park as well as adjacent areas including Lincoln Park, the stretch in front of the State Capitol that had already been closed as a public-health hazard for six weeks earlier this year; the lawn of the Central Denver Public Library at Broadway and East 14th Avenue; and the Pioneer Monument fountain outside of the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Building.
"Due to public health and safety concerns, and in an effort to prevent large gatherings and ensure extreme physical distancing, the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment and Denver Parks and Recreation are closing Civic Center Park and surrounding areas effective immediately and until further notice," says Cyndi Karvaski, communications director for Parks and Recreation. "This closure is intended as a preventative action to reduce the spread of transmission of COVID-19 in areas where interventions to implement physical distancing have not been effective."
At present, the closure order only affects Civic Center and surrounding areas.
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Civic Center Park is hardly the only Denver park where people have been congregating during Mayor Michael Hancock's citywide stay-at-home order; Cheesman, City and Washington parks have all played host to large crowds since the order was issued on March 23. However, Civic Center Park has seen a large influx of homeless gatherings, including overnight encampments, which gave rise to public-health concerns.
The Stout Street Health Center, which is run by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, has been testing homeless individuals for COVID-19. The center has tested over 150 people so far; by April 7, nine had tested positive, while more tests were pending.
In the city's current shelters, it's hard to observe social-distancing protocol. Denver is currently preparing a temporary shelter at the National Western Complex, with room for 600 people.