Hancock presser

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock on Tuesday outlined his plans to reopen the city on Saturday, which included guidelines for reopening businesses and information on testing and contact tracing. 

"This virus is very much a part of our lives," Hancock said, "and will be for the foreseeable future." 

Hancock said his decisions have been informed by Denver's public health team, "in the absence of a national strategy."

As far as testing goes, the mayor said he has worked with local care providers to improve testing capacity. Denver is capable of 1,000 swab tests a day, Hancock said, and "we'll ramp from there." He added that after a sweep of hospitals last week, he was told that combined, they could do "nearly an additional 3,000 swab tests." 

Hancock also announced a mobile testing project: "Wellness Winnie," the purple mobile van to test under-served communities, is up and running as of Tuesday.

In order to better understand the virus, Hancock said that the city is on track to have at least 100 trained contact tracers, "tools that public health scientists say are critical to managing potential spikes and infection, and support safer ways to open the economy." 

Hancock congratulated Denverites for staying at home, wearing face masks and social distancing, making a "phased approach" to lifting the stay-at-home order possible. 

As announced last week, face coverings will be required in certain public settings starting Wednesday. Hancock elaborated that face coverings don't have to be an official N95 mask, but can take the form of modified t-shirts or a bandanna. "As long as it covers your nose and mouth, it'll work," he said.

You don't have to wear a face covering if you have a medical condition that does not allow it, he said. But face coverings are required in commercial or retail businesses, enclosed public spaces like elevators, government buildings where essential public functions are taking place, ride-share cars, and on public transportation and at stops.

Hancock did not comment on Regional Transportation Department's intention to allow voluntary mask-wearing on its buses.

Hancock said his reopening mirrors Colorado Gov. Jared Polis' "Safer-at-Home" phase.

Hancock outlined that in Denver, offices and retail businesses may reopen if they allow only 50% of employees on site with social distancing requirements for both employees and customers. Hair and nail salons, tattoo parlors, personal trainers must not accept walk-ins and have 10 or fewer people in their locations or a maximum of 50% occupancy, "with strict requirements for PPE and social distancing." 

Limited health care facilities, such as chiropractors, also have the same requirements as hair salons.

College campuses, buildings, and houses must have limited showings. Stadiums, arenas, fitness studios, outdoor and indoor recreation centers, libraries and playgrounds must have limited parties visiting of ten people until May 26. Restaurants and bars will remain closed, except for take-out, delivery and curbside service.

He also strongly encouraged businesses whose employees can work from home to allow remote work.

Hancock then brought up the budget.

"Right now, we are looking at at least a $180 million gap from lost revenue and likely more," Hancock said. "That's a gap that can't be filled without some sacrifice."

The mayor said he urged congressional lawmakers to get direct funding relief to cities and states in the next stimulus package.

"This relief ... will be critical to our recovery," he said. "Because if our cities cannot provide basic services and recover sufficiently, there will be no national economic recovery."

Hancock said he formed an "Economic Recovery and Relief Council," chaired by Lori Davis, to help the city bounce back. The council, the mayor said, is composed of business and community leaders, and its subcommittees represent small and medium businesses; large employers; the construction and development industry; and the restaurant, entertainment, arts, cultural and hospitality industry.

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