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Gov. Jared Polis closes bars again after coronavirus cases increase

Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday closed Colorado bars for in-person service — after allowing them to reopen at limited capacity on June 19 — due to the increasing spread of the novel coronavirus.

The move comes as Colorado has seen COVID-19 cases increase in the past two weeks. Other states experiencing surges in infections have also shut down bars. Polis announced the move during an afternoon press conference.

“Whether you personally go to bars or not, just understand that they are important for many people in our state… but there is not a way that we have found for them to be a reasonably safe part of people’s lives during the month of July in our state,” Polis said.

Bars will have 48 hours to close but can continue to sell alcohol to-go or by delivery. Bars that also sell food “and function as restaurants,” according to the Governor, can stay open for in-person service so long as they keep patrons seated at tables spaced six feet apart, without mingling.

Justin Anthony, who owns multiple Denver bars, had just finished putting the final touches on a patio expansion for one of his Larimer Street businesses, American Bonded, when he found out that bars and clubs would be closing again.

While some of his spots offer food and won’t be affected by the new round of closures, others will need to change their business model yet again to stay open.

“It is a daunting prospect to go through all of the planning… to set up something that is not just inviting but safe. All of the considerations that you’ve never had before, and what happens if the plug is pulled?” Anthony asked.

Over the nearly two weeks that bars and clubs have been allowed to reopen for in-person service, Anthony said he’s watched some fellow operators break the rules consistently.

“It’s so unbelievably frustrating to see some of my peers jamming people in, not paying attention to this stuff,” Anthony said. “I don’t think it occurs to these people, if they are just chasing the maximum profit… they are doing their colleagues in the industry a great disservice. It’s so shortsighted. And if you’ve got a patron base that is totally disregarding (rules)… it is going to prevent them from having places to go out to.”

“You are ruining it for the rest of us,” he said of these businesses and their customers.

This is a developing story and will be updated as new information becomes available.  

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World News

Texas closes bars, scales back dining as new virus cases hit an all-time high in U.S. – The Denver Post

The governor of Texas ordered the closing of all bars again and scaled back restaurant dining Friday in the biggest retreat yet amid a surge across the South and West that has sent the number of confirmed new coronavirus infections per day in the U.S. to an all-time high of 40,000 — higher even than during the deadliest stretch in April and May.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott had pursued up to now one of the most aggressive reopening schedules of any state and had not only resisted calls to order the wearing of masks but had also refused until last week to let local governments take such measures.

“It is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars,” he said. “The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and protect public health.”

Abbott joined the small but growing number of governors either backtracking or putting any further reopenings on hold. Some of the other worst-hit states, including Arizona, Florida and Arkansas, have Republican governors who have also resisted mask wearing and echoed President Donald Trump’s desire to quickly reopen the economy.

Amid the surge, the White House coronavirus task force, led by Vice President Pence, was scheduled to hold its first briefing in nearly two months on Friday afternoon. signaling the adminstration’s recognition that it cannot ignore the alarming increases.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed new infections in the U.S. per day soared past the previous high of 36,400, set on April 24, during one of the deadliest stretches in the crisis so far, according to the count kept by Johns Hopkins University. The average number of new cases per day has risen about 60 percent over the past two weeks, according to an Associated Press analysis.

While the increase is believed to reflect, in part, greatly expanded testing, experts say there is ample evidence the virus is making a comeback, including rising deaths and hospitalizations in parts of the country, especially in the South and West.

Deaths from the coronavirus in the U.S. are down to around 600 per day, compared with about 2,200 in mid-April. Despite the rise in cases, some experts have expressed doubt that deaths will return to that level, because of advances in treatment and prevention and also because a large share of the new infections are in younger adults, who are more likely than older ones to survive.

The virus is blamed for 124,000 deaths in the U.S. and 2.4 million confirmed infections nationwide, by Johns Hopkins’ count. But U.S. health officials said the true number of Americans infected is about 20 million, or almost 10 times higher. Worldwide, the virus has claimed close to a half-million lives, according to Johns Hopkins.

In addition to scaling back restaurant capacity, Abbott shut down rafting operations and said any outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people will need approval from the local government. The move came as the number of patients at Texas hospitals statewide more than doubled in two weeks.

Texas reported more than 17,000 confirmed new cases in the past three days, with a record high of nearly 6,000 on Thursday. The day’s tally of over 4,700 hospitalizations was also a record.

On Thursday, Arizona put on hold any further efforts to reopen the economy, with Republican Gov. Doug Ducey saying the numbers “continue to go in the wrong direction.” Arizona reported over 3,000 additional infections Thursday, the fourth day in a week with an increase over that mark.

Nevada’s governor ordered the wearing of face masks in public, Las Vegas casinos included.

Elsewhere around the world, China moved closer to containing a fresh outbreak in Beijing. Another record daily increase in India pushed the caseload in the world’s second most populous nation toward half a million. And other countries with big populations like Indonesia, Pakistan and Mexico grappled with large numbers of infections and strained health care systems.

South Africa, which accounts for about half of the infections on the African continent with over 118,000, reported a record of nearly 6,600 new cases after loosening what had been one of the world’s strictest lockdowns earlier this month.

Italy, one of the hardest-hit European nations, battled to control an outbreak among Bulgarian seasonal crop pickers near Naples.

The governor of the southern Campania region insisted that the workers who live in an apartment complex with dozens of COVID-19 cases stay inside for just over two weeks, not even emerging for food — authorities will deliver groceries to them.

Smith reported from Providencd, Rhode Island; D’Emelio reported from Rome. Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report.

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