Hundreds of protesters descend on Colorado Capitol to oppose coronavirus restrictions
DENVER (AP) — Several hundred people staged a peaceful protest outside Colorado’s Capitol on Sunday against the state’s stay-at-home order and its closures of thousands of nonessential businesses as ways to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
Denver’s protesters joined others in the West, including Salt Lake City; Boise, Idaho; and Olympia, Washington, who have staged rallies demanding immediate action to reopen states for business.
Horn-honking motorists circled the Capitol building as dozens of pedestrians, some not wearing masks, congregated outside the building. Many waved American flags and held signs that read “End the Virus, Not the Economy” and “We need stability to stay healthy,” The Denver Post reported.
Hand-washing and staying home if you’re sick are fine — but not closing businesses, said protester Jim Fenimore of Colorado Springs. “Every day that goes by is hurting the state.”
Hundreds of thousands of residents have filed unemployment claims since a statewide order shut nonessential businesses on March 26. Colorado’s unemployment rate rose from a historic low of 2.5% in February to 4.5% in March, the state reported Friday.
Gov. Jared Polis’ office said Polis respects citizens’ right to protest but that “those participating are only endangering themselves.”
Polis has laid out goals for an economic reopening that he says will include social distancing in work and social settings until a vaccine or cure is found for the coronavirus. He urged businesses to consider continued telecommuting where possible, staggered work shifts, barriers between work stations and other ways to contain the virus.
Like many governors, Polis also has stressed that more data is needed to determine how effective social distancing is in curbing the virus’ spread.
According to the Colorado Sun, one of the protestors was House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, a Castle Rock Republican who has been critical of the restrictions put in place by Gov. Polis.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
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The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals this week affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit against the city of Aspen that challenged its zoning laws concerning Mill Street Plaza, which is home to locally serving businesses.