Gov. Polis announces closing of some bars and nightclubs, Protect Our Neighbor phase requirements

Gov. Jared Polis holds a news conference on COVID-19 in Colorado, on April 27, 2020.

Gov. Jared Polis holds a news conference on COVID-19 in Colorado, on April 27, 2020.

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DENVER (KDVR) — In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Governor Jared Polis announced the closing of bars for in-person service, but they can continue to sell alcohol to-go.

Bars that now serve food and function as restaurants can stay open under the existing guidelines of social distancing, seating guests with their own party and not allowing mingling. 

This closure will go into effect within the next 48 hours and will be in place for 30 days, unless a county/region qualifies to enter the Protect Our Neighbor phase.

“There is not a way that we have found for them (bars/nightclubs) to be a reasonably safe part of people’s lives during the month of July in our state,” Polis said. “That doesn’t mean that there won’t be any bars or nightclubs open in our state in July.”

The governor announced the reopening of bars at 25 percent capacity or up to 50 people just two weeks ago.

Polis said the uptick in cases among the younger demographic is attributable to bars and nightclubs, as well as parties, large gatherings and protests. Those are factors he considered when making his decision, he said.

Polis said counties or regions approved to enter the Protect Our Neighbor phase will be able to reopen these establishments. A list of qualifications and the requirement to submit a mitigation plan to move into the next phase were presented by Dr. Rachel Herlihy, M.D., MPH, branch director and state epidemiologist.

Polis encouraged Coloradans to celebrate the nation’s birthday by using common sense and proper judgement. He suggested to wear a mask if you choose to gather in a small group to watch fireworks or socialize this holiday weekend.

“It’s not a matter of if it’s just a question of when it gets to the point we have widespread community transmission in our state,” Polis said. “And that every day activities will become more dangerous. So we we really need to make sure we don’t reach that point. We don’t want to have the kind of setback that Arizona or Texas is having, or Utah or Oklahoma.”

According to a study by the Harvard Global Health Unit and reported by National Public Radio, Colorado is at a moderate level for an outbreak. The model shows the state does not currently meet mitigation and suppression testing targets.

Polis previously discussed a capacity of 8,500 tests per day being conducted by July. But said the Pepsi Center free testing site had a high of 2,000 tests in one day last week. He said Colorado’s positivity rate is in the three to four percent range, while Arizona and Texas are in the 12 to 14 percent range.

The state has posted a slight uptick in cases nine of the last 14 days. Polis reiterated the fact that there are 50 free community testing sites around the state and encouraged anyone with symptoms, those possibly exposed or anyone who wants to be tested to go get tested.

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