By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4)– Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced a ban on large group gatherings as well as other changes in the city due to the coronavirus pandemic. The ban will be effective immediately through May 11.

The order banning gatherings of groups of 50 or more people will be effective immediately.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (credit: CBS)

“This amended order for mass gatherings will be effective immediately and shall be in effect for eight weeks, through May 11,” said Hancock.

All restaurants and bars will be closed for dining in or on-site eating starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday. Take out orders will still be allowed for those businesses that chose to stay open.

“Delivery, drive-thru and carry-out will still be permitted,” said Hancock.

Businesses like My Brother’s Bar made the decision over the weekend to close. The owner told CBS4 on Monday he saw a move to close restaurants and bars coming based on what was happening in other states across the country.

(credit: CBS)

“Honestly it’s terrifying. I don’t know what we’re going to do. How long we’re going to be able to maintain? How long we’re going to be able to do this?” said Danny Newman. “We certainly are going to hopefully figure out a process to keep everyone fed.”

It is known as the oldest bar in Denver, in continuous operation since 1873. Not only are they worried about the safety of everyone who comes in and out of the restaurant, but also the staff who rely on the income earned when the business is open.

“I don’t think there’s been another time when we’ve had to deal with anything similar to this.”

The business was actually open during the last major pandemic, the 1918 Spanish Flu. The owner is asking customers to support his employees by making a donation online. He is also looking into offering to-go options for customers to order food, a way to stay open and keep everyone working.

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“That’s all been amazing and really generous of the community to help out in that way,” Newman said.  “We’ll absolutely be back […] in full glory. “

The Stanley Marketplace in Aurora wants to stay open by switching to a temporary model called “Stanley To-Go” on Tuesday. Curbside service from some of their vendors as well as selling items on patios or having drivers go through special lanes in the parking lot.

“We are by nature a community gathering place so telling people not to gather here is really challenging for sure and honestly a little heartbreaking,” said Bryant Palmer, chief storyteller for Stanley Marketplace.

Customers should visit the food hall’s Facebook page for more information and look into ordering in advance online through a vendor’s website. Hours will be adjusted and Palmer says they will see how they can make this model work while the facility itself is closed.

(credit: CBS)

The mayor also said that all Denver DMV locations closed until further notice. Employees will not report to work until March 22.

“We will be providing a grace period for any expired vehicles,” said Hancock.

Hancock said movie theaters and private gyms are not being required to shut down, but must adhere to the 50-person limit. Hancock said public city gymnasiums have been temporarily shut down.

RELATED: Latest Updates On The Coronavirus Outbreak In Colorado

There are 160 cases of coronavirus in Colorado as of Monday afternoon.

Hancock also said that this is not the time to evict people from their homes and that Denver Sheriffs Department deputies will be reassigned away from eviction duties.

Health officials say the measures are put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We know these increased measures have a day-to-day impact on people’s lives, but these are steps we must take in order to reduce people’s exposure to this virus,” said Hancock. “With these increased measures, our primary focus remains on supporting our vulnerable populations who will be most effected.”

Mayor Hancock also said the city is looking for young, healthy volunteers who would like to assist the city in its COVID-19 response, and Hancock said if you have any vacant buildings you’d like to offer up to the city to use as temporary housing and/or hospitals, the city would love your help.

Additional Information from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment:

  • Practice good hygiene. Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. In the absence of soap and water, use hand-sanitizer; use your elbow or sleeve to cover coughs and sneezes
  • Stay home if you’re sick; keep your children home if they are sick. The illness can last for many days so make preparations now to work from home if possible.
  • We advise Coloradans to always be prepared for an emergency– like a large snowstorm– and have a plan for your family. Make sure to have 72 hours of key supplies on hand like medications, infant formula, diapers, pet food, etc. FEMA guidance for pre-pandemic COVID-19 preparedness is available on Ready.gov.
  • Stay informed with reliable, up-to-date information. People who have general questions about coronavirus disease 2019, can call CO HELP at 303-389-1687 or 1-877-462-2911 or email COHELP@RMPDC.org, for answers in English and Spanish (Español), Mandarin (普通话), and more.

Shawn Chitnis

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