(The Center Square) - Three public health departments spanning five counties in the Denver metro area issued stay-at-home orders Wednesday in an attempt to slow the coronavirus outbreak.
The counties include Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas Counties – which fall under the Tri-County Health Department – along with Boulder and Jefferson Counties, and apply to two million residents. The orders all go into effect on at 8 a.m. Thursday and last until April 17 unless other action is taken.
The orders exempt government functions, health care operations, “essential businesses,” and “essential activities,” as long as social distancing is practiced.
Liquor stores, marijuana dispensaries, firearm retailers, hardware stores, grocery stores, markets and gas stations all fall under the definition of “essential businesses” under the orders. Outdoor activities are permitted as long as groups are no larger than four people.
“There is widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the Metro Denver area, and we must take bold actions to stop the spread of this virus,” Tri-County Health Department Executive Director John M. Douglas, Jr. said in a statement. “With each passing day, we run a growing risk of greater transmission and illness and quickly overwhelming our hospitals, which are really a resource for our entire region and state.”
Violations of the public health orders could result in fines of up to $5,000 and/or 18 months in prison.
The city and county of Denver issued a stay-at-home order Monday, which started at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. The initial order, however, did not deem liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries “essential businesses,” causing people to flood into stores to stock up on alcoholic beverages and marijuana.