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Curfew, additional enforcement for pandemic not necessary in Colorado Springs, mayor says

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- With Pueblo currently mandating an overnight curfew to reduce socializing at bars and other places in hopes of reducing the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, many of us wonder if Colorado Springs will take similar action.

In an interview Wednesday with KRDO NewsChannel 13, Mayor John Suthers downplayed the need for a curfew.

"I've said from the beginning that we're going to take our marching orders from the health experts," he said. "If the (El Paso County) Health Department came to me and really wanted to impose a curfew, then we'd talk about it. But they haven't done that. I'm not inclined to take any steps separate and apart from direction by the Health Department."

On Wednesday, the city regressed to the second of three levels of the "Safer at Home" health order -- which brings more restrictions, including the closing of bars that don't serve food.

"Closing bars to control the spread of the virus makes more sense than having a curfew," Suthers said. "But my guess is the vast majority of bars are going to wind up serving food to get around that. We hope that being at Level 2 will start to make a difference."

The mayor did institute a weeklong curfew in early June, but that was designed to maintain order during protests in the aftermath of the death of a black man, George Floyd, at the hands of several Minneapolis police officers.

Furthermore, Suthers believes no additional enforcement of existing health orders is necessary.

"I think it's totally unrealistic to expect (police) to run around enforcing mask-wearing or crowd capacity limits," he said. "The enforcement is the Health Department learning of a violation, issuing an order to refrain and getting the District Attorney to file an action on violators. I don't see police enforcing this, for a variety of reasons."

At a news conference two weeks ago -- before the announcement of Pueblo's curfew and the recent spike in COVID cases -- Health Department Medical Director Dr. Robin Johnson indicated that the office wouldn't seek more enforcement.

"(We're) not in the business of enforcement," she said. "We're in the business of education and guidance. We shouldn't need enforcement. We all just need to buckle down and do the right things."

Johnson repeated that message in an interview with KRDO NewsChannel 13 Thursday.

"We shouldn't look at what could happen and how we can avoid that, or be afraid of what might be coming down the pike," she said. "But think of how can I empower myself, friends and loved ones to take hold of and do today, so we never get there."

Suthers said the situation could change if the current spike in cases leads to a shortage of hospital beds.

"In that event, we'd have to do something more dramatic," he said. "Let's just hope we don't get there. We need everybody's cooperation between now and Thanksgiving."

The mayor also asks people to start planning upcoming holiday celebrations to be in smaller groups.

"The number-one culprit in this spike is informal gatherings where people aren't wearing masks or following social distancing," he said.

Johnson agrees.

'Even with a curfew, people can still go home and have a large gathering in their private home," she said. "It's really important for individuals to understand that it doesn't matter if you're out at a restaurant, out at a park or you're in your home. You will spread it."

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.


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