DENVER – Mayor Michael Hancock will extend the city’s stay-at-home order, he announced Thursday.
"I know many are anxious about what next week will look like given @GovofCO's phased relaxation of the state stay at home order on Monday," Hancock tweeted. "After careful consideration, in consultation w/ metro mayors & public health guidance, I've decided to extend our local order."
He said he'd disclose more information at 10 a.m. Friday. A city source told Denver7 said the extension will go until May 8.
Denver7 will carry that announcement live on our website, our streaming platforms and our social media pages.
Denver’s directive to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, which went into effect on March 24, was set to expire on April 30. At the time, Hancock warned the executive order could be extended if necessary.
The order — which currently carries up to a $999 civil penalty, per violation — directs all city and county of Denver residents to stay home except for essential activities, such as grocery shopping or to get a little exercise, but these activities must be done with strict social distancing measures in mind.
Exemptions to the order include people in essential positions that need to travel to work and residents going to the gas station, bank or other essential businesses, including hardware stores; plumbing, electrical and extermination services; mailing and postal services; laundromats and dry cleaning; as well as home-based care.
News of Denver's extension of the stay-at-home order, first reported by Denverite, came just three days after Hancock said the city was working on multiple scenarios to ensure a slow and successful phase of reopening — which included the reopening of all city-owned golf courses on Wednesday.
But in a recording of a private government meeting obtained by Denverite Thursday, Hancock changed his tune, saying the city was unprepared to relax its stay-at-home order.
"Hancock said the metro region cannot currently test enough people or trace the contacts of infected people at a rate that makes him and other Front Range counties comfortable," wrote Denverite's David Sachs.
In a tweet Thursday evening, Hancock reiterated that sentiment.
"Extending our stay-at-home order will give us more time to do the things necessary for our community to re-open safely & in stages," Hancock wrote. "So, we need a little more time to scale up testing & tracing, & provide our resident & biz w/ the kind of specific guidance they are asking for."
The mayor's plan to extend the city's stay-at-home order until May 8 follows Gov. Jared Polis' announcement on Monday that he would allow a phased relaxation of the statewide stay-at-home order, even though Polis admitted the state's testing capabilities were lacking overall.
“I will tell you the governor’s guidance generally to me was very helpful, but the timing is regretful in that we needed time to understand what his roll-out (plan) was going to be,” Hancock reportedly said during the private meeting Thursday, according to Denverite.
One of the many challenges the city faces is increasing testing for COVID-19 for residents and testing for antibodies, as well as training and hiring staff specialized in contact tracing, Hancock said Monday, adding the city will continue to prioritize nursing homes and long-term care facilities for additional personal protective equipment, testing and staff support.
Denver is the current epicenter of the new virus, reporting more than 2,100 positive cases and 98 deaths from COVID-19 as of 4 p.m. Thursday.