The City of Boulder has issued a stay-at-home order for all residents that goes into effect at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 24. The order requires people to stay in their homes except for essential activities, like grocery shopping and seeking medical care.
The order will remain in effect through at least April 10.
Businesses that can implement remote working are required to do so for all of their employees.
Certain industries that provide essential services are exempt, including health care, grocery stores, direct-to-consumer shipping, residential construction, public safety, law enforcement, fire prevention and code enforcement, among others.
Liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries will also remain open, but they are required to establish protocols for social distancing.
Outdoor recreation is allowed so long as social distance - defined as a space of at least 6 feet between individuals - is strictly maintained. However, playgrounds, golf courses, basketball courts, picnic areas and other outdoor facilities that encourage gathering will be closed.
Boulder city spokesperson Patrick von Keyserling said he hopes the order conveys the seriousness of the situation. Recent St. Patrick's Day parties in Boulder where crowds gathered in spite of strong recommendations were particularly concerning.
"We have been asking people to voluntarily socially distance and what we were seeing was that was not as effective as telling people to please stay home, unless you have essential errands you have to run," Von Keyserling said.
Public health officials say social distancing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The City of Boulder hopes that this order will spread out the rate of coronavirus infections over time, or "flatten the curve," and avoid overwhelming the city's healthcare infrastructure with a large number of critical care patients all at once.
Thirty-nine people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Boulder County as of Monday afternoon.
Violations of the Boulder order come with a $1,000 fine or up to 90 days in jail. But von Keyserling hopes the order will be more educational than punitive.
"We want people to use good judgment and think not just about yourself, but what is the risk to your employees?" said von Keyserling. "What's the risk to neighbors, family members who might be more vulnerable to COVID-19 than you are. It's the fastest way for us to get back to a normal economy or normal community."
Text of the full stay-at-home order can be found here .
The City of Denver also announced its own stay-at-home order on Monday. Von Keyserling explained the cities' actions are part of a coordinated response to the coronavirus.
"If it is going to be spread socially on the Front Range," he said, "the best way for us to be effective is if municipalities follow suit and we all do the same thing together."
Gov. Jared Polis has said he is not inclined to issue a stay-at-home order for the whole state of Colorado at this time.