Enforcement challenges associated with banning young adults from gathering in Boulder

Coronavirus

BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — City and campus police officers in Boulder are trying to enforce new health orders prohibiting young adults from gathering together. The county health department orders come as officials report 933 confirmed COVID-19 cases on the University of Colorado’s flagship campus.

Enforcing the orders will be challenging, according to CU Boulder Police Department spokesperson Scott Pribble. One of the directives prohibits people 18 through 22 years of age from gathering together within Boulder city limits.

Students at Colorado’s largest university are already under a 14-day self quarantine and 100% virtual learning. Health officials, however, say more needs to be done because students are still coming together — allowing for viral spread.

“We’re going to have a combined team of police department officers from the city and officers from the CU Police Department,” said City of Boulder spokesperson Sarah Huntley.

Huntley said city police will be responding primarily to complaints and patrolling “high-risk areas” for gatherings of people between the ages of 18 and 22. CU Boulder police will be teaming up with their city colleagues at locations off campus.

“We are partnering with them during the potentially high-impact times, and we are there to help support them during their efforts,” Pribble said.

Boulder city police won’t say how many extra officers will be assigned to enforce the gathering restrictions. Staffing numbers are not released due to safety reasons.

Chancellor Philip DiStefano says CU Boulder is focused on virtual events for students during this unusual time.

The county health department has also issued stay-at-home orders for people living at 36 properties where there have been unlawful gatherings.

Those who violate any of the health orders could face municipal punishment of up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, according to local prosecutors. If charged under state law, 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine could be imposed. CU says students can also be suspended for health order violations.

A CU official said Thursday morning that 374 students have already canceled their university housing since the semester began. DiStefano and the governor say students should stay in Boulder to prevent additional spread across the state and country.

“I would not recommend, at this time, that we ask all students to leave,” DiStefano said. “However, we will have to re-assess that in the next two weeks.”

As for case count, DiStefano expressed optimism with what’s ahead.

“I’m confident that we’re going to see a significant decline [in cases] in the next two weeks,” he said.

The latest health orders run through Oct. 8. Campus-wide virtual learning is set to run through Oct. 7.

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