Denver Government

Denver COVID-19 Safety Crackdown? Not So Much

The Colorado Athletic Club, at 2695 South Monaco Parkway, is among the businesses on the latest citations list.
The Colorado Athletic Club, at 2695 South Monaco Parkway, is among the businesses on the latest citations list. Google Maps
The spread of COVID-19 is increasing fast in most Denver neighborhoods, and Mayor Michael Hancock has warned that enforcement actions against those violating public-health orders will be ramped up. But despite Denver shifting to Level Orange (High Risk) on Colorado's dial system, there's little evidence of an aggressive crackdown.

Indeed, figures from the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment indicate that there have been no new business closures, and citations to safety scofflaws have actually slowed since Hancock's October 13 pronouncement, when he said the city had reached a make-or-break moment regarding the novel coronavirus. At the time, he teased a get-tough approach for those failing to follow health protocols in an effort to stave off greater restrictions on capacity at businesses and restaurants. When capacities were actually reduced two weeks later, Hancock repeated that message, saying that the city "will increase enforcement. Our tolerance for violating the public-health orders will have to be, unfortunately, very limited."

Thus far, though, there's been only modest follow-through. From October 1 through October 12, the DDPHE handed out seventeen citations, for an average of 1.417 per day. But in the 21 days spanning October 13 to November 3, the city issued just 25 more citations, for an average of 1.389 per day. Moreover, the DDPHE hasn't temporarily closed a business for ignoring COVID-19 protocols since August — although access to an apartment-building gym was cut off after what were described as repeated violations.

These totals are even less impressive in comparison with the 78 citations or closures between August 1 and August 17. Those dinged during that period include the Nativ Hotel, which makes another appearance on the latest roster.

Here are the latest figures from the city, with comparisons to those on October 13:
Total contacts to-date: 17,144 (16,876 on October 13)
Mask-related contacts only: 3,136 (2,874 on October 13)
Warnings to-date: 15,371 (15,111 on October 13)
Mask-related warnings only: 2,847 (2,593 on October 13)
Citations to-date: 222 (195 on October 13)
Placards to-date (closures): 13 (unchanged since October 13)
Reopening: 13 (unchanged since October 13)
The 25 citations issued between October 13 and November 3 include tickets given to multiple restaurants and bars, several exercise-related enterprises (including the Colorado Athletic Club), and a smattering of general businesses — among them a Romantix outlet at which seven employees were spotted without masks.

By the way, Hancock is scheduled to talk about COVID-19 at 11:30 p.m. today, November 6, when he will reveal "new measures being implemented to address the city’s continued increase in average daily cases and new steps to increase community testing." Expect increased enforcement to be back on the table, even though it hasn't added up to much so far.

Here is the DDPHE's updated citations list for October 13 through November 3, accompanied by the department's explanation of what went wrong.
1. 11/3/2020: Zip Clinic (1 S Broadway) — Two employees in the back of the clinic not wearing masks, talking within 6 ft of each other. No city signage posted.

2. 11/2/2020: Bella Italia (5075 Leetsdale Dr.) — 2/5 Employees not wearing face covering. 1/5 employee not properly wearing a facecovering. 3/5 employees not observing social distancing in kitchen near food. No city signage.

3. 11/2/2020: Akerna LLC (1630 Walton St.) — 6 employees without masks within 6 feet of each other.

4. 10/31: Patio Liquor Mart (1971 W Evans Ave) — 2 employees without face coverings.

5. 10/31: Postino Wine Café ( 830 N Colorado Blvd) — 8 patrons sitting at a bar where service was taking place with bartender less than 6 feet away.

6. 10/31: M and I international market (909 S Oneida St) — Approximately 7 employees with face covering below chin or no face covering at all. No social distance between employees.

7. 10/31: Optimum Golf (5059 e 38th Ave) — 10 out of 10 people not wearing face coverings (2 employees and 8 patrons)

8. 10/29: Keller Williams Realty (917 Auraria Prkwy) — 5 out of 5 employees without face coverings

9. 10/29: Fontana Sushi (534 E Alameda Ave) — 2 employees observed without face coverings.

10. 10/26: Rocky Mountain Medical and Health Care Inc (6850 E Evans Ave #102) —Two out of 3 employees not wearing masks, two employees working within 6 ft of each other. No city signage posted.

11. 10/23: Vital Strength and Fitness (800 Lincoln St) -Patrons not wearing face coverings on 10/14 and 10/23 visit

12. 10/22: Muay Thai of Colorado (7808 Cherry Creek S Dr) —The owner and 7 patrons are in the main gym area without masks on. Approximately 6 patrons are wearing masks correctly. Owner provided masks and they were donned immediately.

13. 10/22: Romantix (4655 Colorado Blvd ) — Seven employees without face masks: Four employees in individual offices and three walking around the warehouse without face coverings.

14. 10/21: Mariscos Las Islitas (1550 S Federal Blvd) — 4 out of 5 employee not wearing face coverings.

15. 10/20: E&E Tandem Dance (7808 Cherry Creek Dr. South #212) — 11 students and 2 staff in a room approximately 200 sq ft and did not have masks on. Corrected immediately when advised and fall under gym protocol.

16. 10/20: Discount Tire (1990 S Federal) — 3 of 5 employees not wearing masks in garage, within 6ft of each other

17. 10/18: Mark Bennett (6460 E Yale Ave) — operator was performing sidework with 2 helpers at E&S Liquors. None of them were wearing masks while working inside. GV issued to him personally, not to a business.

18. 10/18: E&S Liquors (6460 E Yale Ave) — 3 contractors working inside were not wearing masks.

19. 10/17: Avanti (3200 N Pecos St) — Lack of social distancing at two different bars, improper spacing of tables and patrons co mingling.

20. 10/16: The Bar at Plaza 38 (3550 W 38th Ave) — Found people dancing/mingling and patrons at bar area where prep was happening.

21. 10/16: Freaky’s (5701 E Colfax Ave) — Observed 2/2 customers not wearing a mask. 2/3 employees not wearing a face cover.

22. 10/15: CoLab Apartments (1493 Osage Street) — Issued orders to close gym in the apartment building after third visit with non-compliance.

23. 10/14: Colorado Athletic Club (2695 S Monaco Pkwy) — 8 patrons playing tennis indoors and not wearing face coverings.

24. 10/14: Nativ Hotel (1612 Wazee St) — 7 employees having a meeting at a table with no face coverings on and within 6 feet, no food or beverages being consumed.

25. 10/13: Co Lab Apartments (1493 Osage St) — Observed 3 office staff not wearing and/properly wearing face masks in front office room. In gym we saw 6/7 people not wearing masks within 6 ft. and in hallway patrons not wearing masks near other patrons.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts