DENVER – People aged 18-22 in Boulder will be able to gather in groups of two, rather than no groups at all, after the county health department modified its public health order Monday.
Boulder County Public Health said the changes were made because of feedback from the community that included young adults saying they did not always feel safe while alone and asks for more provisions for legal activities and people with disabilities, the health department said.
Since the initial order was released last week, students and officials have spoken out in droves.
"We fully acknowledge that there have been students that haven’t been following public health guidelines, and that is unfortunate. But that is a small, small minority compared to the students who actually care for this community and want to make sure that we’re keeping everyone safe," said University of Colorado Boulder Representative Councilmember, Kathryn Adams.
Adams says many students and parents were concerned with safety and not being able to walk with someone else.
"A lot of young women can attest that to the fact that we don’t feel safe walking around Boulder at night and a lot of students don’t have cars. And we just feel that the city of Boulder hasn’t really taken our interests into account," said Adams.
Under the modified public health order, people aged 18-22 can now gather in groups of two, but must follow social distancing requirements when possible and abide by other public health orders. Previously, people among that age group were not allowed to gather in groups of any sort.
The health department says that students concerned about walking alone on campus can contact CU police at 303-492-6666 and can download the Guardian app and designate a friend or family member as a guardian who can track their movements.
The amended order also allows for people living at 36 addresses identified by the health department as repeatedly violating public health orders – who were ordered to stay at their residence at all times except for medical care, solo outside exercise, and getting food and medical supplies – to leave the property “for Essential Activities and Essential Travel or as required by law.”
“This will allow students to leave their residence to move their car to avoid parking tickets, for example,” the county health department said.
The health department has also created an exemption process for people living in the properties ordered to stay at home, though the department says people will have to show they are experiencing financial hardship because of the order, that they have a job and that they are now less likely to be contagious with COVID-19 following a positive test result in the past 90 days.
“Designation as an ‘essential worker’ is not sufficient reason to be granted an exemption, nor is a negative test for the COVID-19 virus,” the health department said.
Students with questions can contact the health department at 720-776-0822. The order remains in effect until noon on Oct. 8 unless it is extended by the health department.
The health department’s limitation on gatherings among college-aged students are among several steps taken to try to limit the spread of the coronavirus in Boulder, which they say stems mostly from illegal gatherings among students.
On Friday, the health department issued an emergency order that went into effect at 5 p.m. Friday that prohibits the sale of alcohol at bars, restaurants and clubs between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., which also runs through noon on Oct. 8.
The statewide “last call order” had already prohibited sales at those types of businesses after 11 p.m., but Boulder officials said that the earlier time is aimed at slowing “the increasing spread of coronavirus among young people in Boulder.”
Boulder is in the state’s Safer at Home Level 2 status, but the city warned that it could have to move to Level 3 if cases continue to rise, which would impose further restrictions on city residents and businesses.
The university is remote learning through at least next Wednesday amid the spike in cases.
The Denver Post reported Saturday that more than 500 students had withdrawn from the university since the beginning of the fall semester amid the surge in cases, move to remote learning and restrictions.
But for 21-year-old Daniel Llewellyn, who already graduated from CU and still lives in Boulder, the order isn’t only unfair, it’s unconstitutional, he says.
"I didn’t realize until my roommate and I went to a restaurant and they carded us at the front entrance and told us they couldn’t serve us. They’re calling out this age group, 18 to 22, when some of us are being more careful than some of the 30, 40, 50-year-olds out there," said Llewellyn.
"We understand that this is a very difficult time for young adults and in the 18 to 22-year-old age group. It doesn’t feel fair, it’s not fair. Unfortunately, the data shows us that this is where the transmission is happening and we need to stop that spread to protect people in this age group as well as everyone else in the community," said Boulder County Public Health spokesperson Chana Goussetis.
At the same time, the Boulder County Attorney’s Office says the order falls within public health’s legal authority to address the public health crisis.
So far, 1,600 people at CU have tested positive for COIVD-19.