DENVER (CBS4)– As coronavirus cases continue to rise in Denver, there will be more restrictions that impact restaurants and retail spaces. Last week, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock put tighter restrictions in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Group gatherings were limited to five people, instead of 10 and face coverings were required outdoors.

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Denver has adopted Colorado’s COVID-19 dial dashboard which tracks the progress of each county using key metrics. As of last week, Denver was at Safer At Home Level 2 “Concern.” That has now changed because of Denver’s 7.3% positivity rate.

“I don’t believe this is Denver’s failing. It is rather failing by those who still refused to believe in science, and those who do not take it seriously,” said Hancock.

The escalation to Level 3 “High Risk” means that all retail and restaurants will be limited to 25% capacity. Large group gatherings will be limited to 75 people. Gyms, fitness centers and yoga studios will operate with 25% capacity or up to 25 people in Level 3. That is a change from previous recommendations, which required gyms and fitness centers to operate virtually or outside with only 10 people.

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“We saw the first spike in May. And you can see what the case numbers were at that time. And then shortly after July we saw another spike. And now, we are up here at a cumulative incident rate of two week period of 385 cases per 100,000 in the City of Denver,” said Bob McDonald, Executive Director Denver Department of Public Health. “We need to get down to 175 cases per 100,000 for a two-week period.”

“To get back to Level 2, we must reduce our positivity rates and hold those numbers for two weeks,” said Hancock during a news conference on Tuesday morning.

Hancock said that variances previously given to arts and cultural centers will remain in place.

“We’re seeing an increase in all age groups, but the highest percentage of those that are tested as positive continue to remain in our younger population,” said McDonald.

RELATED: Denver Public Schools Announces Learning Change Amid New Level 3 Restrictions

Level 3 is more restrictive than Safer at Home Level 2, according to the State of Colorado website for COVID-19 guidelines. The qualifiers for Level 3 include:

  • 15% positivity rate or less.
  • 175-350 cases per 100,000.
  • Greater than two new COVID-19 hospital admissions per day.

In a tweet Monday afternoon, Denver officials said the recent increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations could force the city and county into another Stay at Home order. Officials said, “Denver’s #COVID19 situation is looking bad. Really bad. No seriously, what we are doing isn’t working.”

LINK: Denver COVID-19 Restrictions

This escalation in restrictions comes amid other counties in the Denver metro area, like Adams and Arapahoe, reacting to help prevent the spread of coronavirus as their counties also experience a rise in COVID-19 cases.

RELATED: Level 3 Restrictions To Soon Take Effect In Adams County

Jennifer McRae