Just hours after Denver's stay-at-home order took effect at 5 p.m. March 24, officials announced that a similar order would be coming for Douglas, Arapahoe and Adams counties.
Aurora mayor Mike Coffman took to Twitter to note that the Tri-County Health Department, which has jurisdiction over the three counties, would issue a stay-at-home order that will likely take effect at 8 a.m. Thursday, March 26. Coffman said that the order would largely mirror Denver's, except that it would last until April 17 rather than April 10, which is the expiration date that Denver has in place.
The decision to issue a stay-at-home order for the three counties, which have a combined population of over 1.5 million individuals, comes as COVID-19 is spreading throughout Colorado, where there have been 912 confirmed cases and 11 deaths to date.
Although Governor Jared Polis has ordered workplaces to reduce their in-person workforce by at least 50 percent across the state, so far he has not issued a statewide stay-at-home order.
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Without that statewide order, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock decided to act and on March 23 announced the city's stay-at-home order, which requires residents to stay at home except for such essential activities as grocery shopping, exercising and seeking medicine and medical care. Both the statewide and Denver orders exempt certain businesses, including media outlets, grocery stores and pharmacies. Restaurants, bars, casinos, gyms and performance venues had already been shut down across the state.
Hancock's announcement on March 23 about the coming stay-at-home order caused a run on liquor stores and recreational pot shops. But after a few hours, Denver walked back the closure order for those businesses and said that they could stay open as long as customers practice "extreme social distancing."
In the coming days, Denver police, park rangers and business investigators will ensure compliance with the order, including instructing people on responsible social distancing and making sure that non-essential businesses are closed down. Violators can be hit with fines of up to $999.
The stay-at-home order for the Tri-County region will also be a formal public-health order with similar enforcement mechanisms.