Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday ordered Colorado bars and nightclubs to close once again to in-person service because of the coronavirus crisis, citing the fact that the establishments have been blamed for spikes in the disease in other states.
“We haven’t figured out how to do bars and nightclubs safely,” the Democrat said at a news conference.
The re-closure order goes into effect in the next 48 hours, Polis said, and lasts for 30 days.
The decision comes as Colorado has seen a slight uptick in coronavirus cases over the past two weeks. Polis said that there has been a rise in infections in 9 of the past 14 days.
“We’re not as successful as we’d like to be in leveling transmission,” he said.
Colorado was reporting 32,715 coronavirus cases through Tuesday and 1,690 deaths among people with infections. More than 1,500 of those who died were killed by the disease, according to state data.
The re-closure of bars and nightclubs marks the first regression in Colorado’s reopening since Polis began limiting Coloradans’ movement because of the pandemic in March and then in April began easing those restrictions.
Polis allowed bars and nightclubs to reopen with limitations just two weeks ago.
Bars may still sell take-out alcohol. Also, ones that serve food and also function as restaurants can continue in-person service as long as people aren’t mingling with other groups.
Polis said part of his reasoning for re-closing bars is that since neighboring states are shutting down nightlife establishments as they deal with surging coronavirus cases he doesn’t want people coming to Colorado to drink and party.
The governor said that the state’s rise in coronavirus cases has mostly been among younger people.
“I think it is partially attributable to bars and nightclubs,” he said.
Polis said that protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police officers in Minnesota likely are another cause of the uptick.
Despite the setbacks, top state public health officials joined Polis on Tuesday to roll out the next phase of Colorado’s reopening, called the “protect our neighbors” phase.
The protect our neighbors phase is expected to be in place until there is a coronavirus vaccine or cure, which could be many months off.
Counties can only enter the phase if they have a downtick or leveling off of new infections, adequate supplies and hospital space, and plans in place to respond to an outbreak. Areas of the state that want to enter the phase can begin applying on July 6.