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All Denver restaurants and bars ordered to close to indoor dining for 8 weeks

Delivery and takeout will be allowed. Gatherings of 50 people or more also banned during that time period.

DENVER — Denver Mayor Michael Hancock issued a public health order Monday morning ordering the closure of all Denver restaurants and bars to indoor dining for the next eight weeks.

The order takes effect at 8 a.m.Tuesday morning and is set to go through May 11. During that time, take-out ordering, delivery and drive-thru service will be allowed.

Hancock also issued an order banning public gatherings of 50 people or more. That order takes effect immediately and also remains in effect through May 11. The orders do not apply to grocery stores. 

"We know these measures have an impact on people's day-to-day lives, but these are steps we must take in order to reduce people's exposure to this virus," Hancock said. "With these increased measures, our primary focus remains of supporting our most vulnerable populations who will be most affected by this."

He said it was public health and wasn't about criminality, but said inspectors would be out working to enforce the policy. Hancock didn't get specific about what that enforcement might look like. 

"I can tell you our excise and licensing inspectors will be out monitoring particularly restaurants and bars with regard to that," Hancock said. "While we expect everyone to comply, our inspectors will be active in the city to make sure we're managing it."

RELATED: Coronavirus live blog, March 16-22: Restaurants, bars to close seating areas

The move comes on the heels of a recommendation over the weekend by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to cancel events with 50 or more people for the next several weeks.

Cases of COVID-19 first popped up in Colorado on March 5 and since then, it's spread rapidly, prompting health officials to recommend that residents and visitors to four mountain communities limit their contact with others.

RELATED: Residents, visitors to 4 Colorado counties urged to limit contact with others

So far, more than 130 cases have been reported in Colorado and an El Paso County woman in her 80s died as a result of the virus, which is now considered a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

RELATED: Coronavirus live blog, March 16-22: CDC recommends cancellation of events with 50 or more people for next 2 weeks

On Monday Hancock also outlined other steps the city was taking to help slow the spread of the virus. They include the following:

  • Closure of ALL Denver DMV locations until further notice. DMV employees will not return to work until March 26 to process any services. There will be a grace period through April.
  • Increase social distancing at the Denver jail by not booking certain low-level offenders.
  • Closure of city-owned venues extends through May 11.
  • City partnering with Denver Public Schools (DPS) to make sure children under 18 get three meals per day. Visit the DPS website for times and locations.
  • Installed handwashing stations throughout the city. Maps of their locations are available here.

RELATED: Food banks, nonprofits prepare for increased need as COVID-19 impacts jobs, ways of life

Hancock also encouraged those who are young and healthy volunteer to make sure that community organizations are able to provide for those in need. He also said there was an urgent need for donations, specifically personal protective equipment. 

"Denver, now is the time we rise up together to help prepare meals to distribute supplies and to help keep our shelter facilities clean for our guests and workers," Hancock said.

The city partnered with the United Way to coordinate donations.

RELATED: Colorado COVID-19 cases, March 16-22: 1 death, 131 positive tests

State officials previously recommended that events with more than 250 be canceled or postponed. All events at city-owned venues have also been canceled through April 12. Those venues include Red Rocks amphitheater which was set to host the Easter sunrise service.

RELATED: Kroenke Sports and Entertainment to pay part-time and hourly workers next 30 days

Kroenke Sports Entertainment also announced that all events at the Pepsi Center, Paramount Theatre, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, and 1STBANK Center for 30 days amid concerns about the spread of the virus. The sports entertainment company said it would pay part-time and hourly workers during that time period.

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