Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has ordered city venues to close their doors and cancel events for the next month, effective immediately, as fears of the new coronavirus spread throughout the United States.
“Our priority is to ensure the health and well being of our community,” Hancock said.
The venues will remain closed until April 12, he said. They are Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, Denver Coliseum, McNichols Civic Center Building and the Colorado Convention Center.
And beginning Monday, Denver’s libraries and recreation centers will be closed until further notice, Hancock said.
“These are not easy decisions; this is the life of our city,” he said.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver Zoo and Denver Botanic Gardens will all issue their own policies, Hancock said. The court system is considering its own changes and City Council meetings will likely continue, he said.
The mayor urged private businesses to follow the “strong lead” of Colorado’s public entities and asked business owners to care for their employees.
“This is not the time to be wedded to your HR book,” he said.
Hancock’s order cements the trend of cancellations that have swept Denver’s public and private industries. Metro area schools and universities also announced closures and cancellations.
As of Friday afternoon, 72 people in Colorado had tested positive for the virus, which causes the respiratory illness COVID-19, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Thirteen of those cases are in Denver County.
In another measure to combat the virus, the city has set up 20 hand-washing sinks around Denver this week and dozens more are on the way.
Most of the sinks will be available at all hours of the day, and several locations will also include portable restrooms, according to a list of all the recently deployed facilities obtained by The Denver Post.
The 20 already available are situated downtown — seven around parks, five along the 16th Street Mall and eight scattered throughout the city’s core, said Tammy Vigil, spokesperson for Denver’s Joint Information Center. The center was established to unify communications about the virus.
Forty-six more hand-wash stations were expected to be installed around the rest of Denver on Friday, Vigil said. All but three of those will allow 24-hour access.
Denver’s Department of Public Health and Environment requested the additional sinks using money from the city’s general fund as well as reallocating cash from other city departments, Heather Burke, another center spokesperson, said in an email.
Frequent hand washing is among the most-often cited ways to combat the spread of the virus.
Thursday, Mayor Michael Hancock ordered the city’s Emergency Operations Center to operate at its full capacity of 90 employees, just hours before declaring a local state of emergency.