DENVER — Denver Mayor Michael Hancock was back in Denver on Saturday, four days after he flew to visit family for Thanksgiving despite his warnings that people should stay close to home for the holiday.
9NEWS interviewed Hancock on Saturday afternoon about his decision to travel.
"It was unwise, it was hypocritical, it was a mistake that I deeply regret and deeply apologize for," Hancock told 9NEWS.
The mayor flew from Denver International Airport (DIA) to Houston on Wednesday and then traveled to Mississippi to visit his daughter. His wife was already there, according to his spokeswoman.
Hancock said Saturday he didn't want to let his daughter down, but that she told him after he arrived that she would have understood if he hadn't come given the circumstances.
>>Watch the full interview above.
About 30 minutes before the flight, Hancock's Twitter account tweeted out to "avoid travel, if you can" in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Hancock said the flight was booked more than a month ago, before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its guidelines not to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday.
He said he was unsure about whether he would even make the trip up right up until he left.
"It was just my personal desire, it was a personal decision that I made, not a wise one, and I'm man enough to say it, that I should not have made the trip."
Hancock added his decision shouldn't have a negative impact on the city's efforts.
"There's a whole cadre of people who are working hard every day since this virus came upon us, spending 12, 14, 18 hours a day, seven days a week to save the lives and save the livelihoods of the people of this city and this state. Nothing that I've done should negate that."
He said he will quarantine for 14 days and work remotely during that time.
On Wednesday, after 9NEWS broke the story that Hancock had traveled to Mississippi, he issued this statement:
“I fully acknowledge that I have urged everyone to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel. I have shared how my family cancelled our plans for our traditional multi-household Thanksgiving celebration. What I did not share, but should have, is that my wife and my daughter have been in Mississippi, where my daughter recently took a job. As the holiday approached, I decided it would be safer for me to travel to see them than to have two family members travel back to Denver.
“I recognize that my decision has disappointed many who believe it would have been better to spend Thanksgiving alone. As a public official, whose conduct is rightly scrutinized for the message it sends to others, I apologize to the residents of Denver who see my decision as conflicting with the guidance to stay at home for all but essential travel. I made my decision as a husband and father, and for those who are angry and disappointed, I humbly ask you to forgive decisions that are borne of my heart and not my head.”
In an email to city staff on Nov. 18, Hancock wrote, “as the holidays approach, we all long to be with our families in person, but with the continued rise in cases, I’m urging you to refrain from travel this Thanksgiving holiday. For my family that means cancelling our traditional gathering of our extended family.”
In the email, Hancock also said anyone who travels out of state should quarantine for 14 days and that employees who can’t work from home will need to use their paid time off for the leave.
This article includes previous reporting by Allison Sylte and Marshall Zelinger.
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