Following precautions taken by officials in various states including California, New York and Illinois to stem the spread of the coronavirus, the city of Denver invoked its own "stay-at-home" order beginning Tuesday at 5 p.m. GMT.
As in other areas, the order shuts down public facilities such as restaurants, gyms and other retail shops, unless deemed as “essential businesses” by local authorities.
Initially, the list excluded liquor and recreational marijuana stores. But within hours of announcing the city-wide order on Monday, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (D) appeared to change the bylines to classify both liquor stores and recreational marijuana stores as “essential businesses” after many residents flocked to those stores before the order took effect.
Under the new regulations, liquor and all marijuana stores can stay open “with extreme physical distancing.”
The stay-at-home order comes after Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) announced a state of emergency earlier this month. The order closes and restricts restaurant operations, public gatherings of more than 50 people and the suspension of schools and “noncritical” workplaces.
The businesses that officials initially said could remain operational as "essential" were grocery stores, pharmacies and health care facilities. Liquor and marijuana stores were not included in that list, with authorities saying they would have to cease in-person operations until April 10.
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Local outlets reported that this caused large influxes of customers to attempt to purchase enough product from both types of stores.
This was problematic as it undermined the social-distancing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to quell the spread of the virus. Some stores were also initially ill-equipped to handle so many customers, resulting in long lines wrapping around the block.
Terrapin Care Station, a Colorado dispensary chain, released a statement thanking the mayor for clarifying the order, Westword reported.
“Without the clarification, the assumption was marijuana was forced to close in Denver,” the store said. “This caused hysteria and panic, thereby negating the progress we made around social distancing.”
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