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Gov. Jared Polis on Wednesday said he was issuing a statewide stay-at-home order starting Thursday morning to try to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
The order goes into effect at 6 a.m. Thursday and continues until at least April 11.
“All we’re asking is for you to stay at home for as much as possible for the next couple of weeks to buy us the time that we need,” Polis said at a news conference.
“It’s not too late to act now to stay home to save lives.”
The decision to enact the mandate comes just days after Polis said such an order was unenforceable and not the right direction for the state. Instead, on Sunday, he issued “guidance” asking Coloradans not to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary.
But on Monday and earlier on Wednesday, counties in the Denver metro area essentially shut down by each enacting their own stay-at-home orders. Other Colorado counties, including Pitkin, San Miguel and La Plata, also issued stay-at-home orders on their own.
The order is the most significant step Polis has taken as he tries to make a dent in the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. He announced it just minutes after the deaths tied to the coronavirus in Colorado hit at least 19 and the number of confirmed cases ballooned over 1,000.
“We’re issuing the stay-at-home order to save lives,” he said.
Polis faced some criticism for not earlier enacting a stay-at-home order. Republicans, however, have said the mandates are unreasonable.
Details about the order were not immediately released. But it generally mandates Coloradans to stay home unless they need to leave for necessary business reasons or to get food, exercise or seek medical care.
Businesses deemed “critical” are exempt, though a list those was not immediately available. They must, however, adhere to strict social-distancing measures.
It’s likely the stay-at-home order will further hurt Colorado’s economy, which has already been deeply damaged by the coronavirus outbreak. Thousands have filed unemployment claims.
Polis also said Wednesday he’s asked President Donald Trump to declare Colorado a major disaster area.
“I call upon President Trump to grant this immediately,” he said.
Polis had already closed down bars and restaurants to in-person dining. Ski areas, theaters, casinos, gyms and schools had also all been ordered shut down.
Polis said the restrictions need to be lifted as soon as possible to prevent further economic damage.
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