Gov. Polis launches ‘Pandemic Savings Time’ in Colorado bars: Last call falls back to 10 PM

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DENVER | One last call for alcohol, to finish your whiskey or beer, will now be at 10 p.m. instead of 2 a.m. across Colorado in an effort to curb spread of COVID-19. 

Gov. Jared Polis made the announcement of the 30-day temporary rule change as data shows the state’s 20 to 29-year-old age group is leading the spread of the virus right now. 

Nightlife patrons won’t have to go home, or even leave the restaurant they’re visiting, at 10 p.m. Bars have been closed but numerous have morphed in to restaurants by serving food.

But now, any businesses with liquor licenses can stay open past 10 p.m., but they must stop serving alcohol. The rule is set to be in place by Friday.

“The state of inebriation in a public place is not consistent with social distancing,” Polis said. “Anybody who has been drunk just knows this inherently; your best goals around social distancing and your best intents just fall by the wayside. If you’re in a group of 50 or 100 people where folks are inebriated, inhibitions are reduced.”

He explained that young, inebriated people at bars and parties let down their guard, probably their masks, and are one of the chief reasons the state COVID-19 infection rate is moving up.

Ironically, the state’s last call law is one that Polis says “irritates” him, and he wants to end it. He called upon legislators to give that control back to local governments later, when the state is recovery mode from the pandemic.

Colorado’s uptick in COVID-19 cases isn’t yet a burden on the health care system, according to state leaders. But another few weeks of the spread doubling could lead to big problems for the state’s hospitals.

“The problem with this one in the pandemic is they’re not just taking a risk for themselves,” Polis said. “They’re taking a risk for older Coloradans as well, their parents, their grandparents, because we don’t live in bubbles.”

15 counties have been notified their metrics for spread on not trending in the right direction.

They are: Prowers, Mineral, Grand, Garfield, Douglas, Denver, Custer, Chaffee, Broomfield, Arapahoe, Adams. Larimer, El Paso, Eagle, and Pitkin counties. Those counties are now at risk for losing exceptions to state law, if they’ve enacted them.

“What is at stake is our economic stability. … If we can control the spread of disease on a county level, it reduces the need for statewide disruption,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of the Department of Public Health and Environment .

More than 40,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Colorado, and more than 1,700 people have died with the disease, according to state health officials.