After panicked crowds swarm Denver liquor stores and dispensaries, mayor reverses order to close both |

After panicked crowds swarm Denver liquor stores and dispensaries, mayor reverses order to close both

It only took three hours for the city of Denver to change course on listing liquor stores and recreational dispensaries as “non-essential”

By Josie Sexton and Joe Rubino The Denver Post
Customers wait in long lines to be let inside at Argonaut Liquors on March 23, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced a public health order with an explicit stay at home directive for the City and County of Denver that goes into effect at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24. People rushed to pot shops and liquor stores fearing they wouldn't be able to buy either item after tomorrow. Hancock did say that liquor stores and pot stores could stay open only if they practiced extreme social distancing inside and outside of their stores. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)
Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock changed course drastically Monday evening after announcing earlier in the day that liquor stores and recreational marijuana dispensaries would close across the city in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus.

His office made a new announcement around 5 p.m. via Twitter, saying that liquor and marijuana stores “with extreme physical distancing in place” will be exempt from the mandated citywide closure of non-essential businesses starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday and continuing through April 10. The definition of extreme is six feet, or the normal amount of social distancing that’s now recommended, the city clarified.

Hancock’s shift came just hours after he had deemed liquor stores and recreational marijuana dispensaries non-essential businesses, as opposed to groceries, gas stations and healthcare operations.

We do not have them listed as essential,” Hancock had said of liquor stores. “As much as I might think it’s essential for me, it’s not essential for everyone.” He suggested Denver residents buy their alcohol Monday night while they still could.

And Denverites did just that, swarming their neighborhood liquor stores Monday afternoon in response — and violating social distancing requirements while they were at it — with some stores reporting lines forming a block long just 15 minutes after the mayor’s press conference.

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