The mayor of Denver has been forced to re-open marijuana and liquor shops only hours after announcing their closure as part of a citywide lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus.
According to local reports, the administration had to change its course after residents flocked to the shops to panic buy alcohol and marijuana the night before the lockdown came into force.
The mayor, Michael Hancock, originally clarified the inclusion of the outlets in the emergency Stay at Home Order implementing lockdown of all non-essential shops across the city in a press conference at 2pm on Monday, The Denver Post said.
However, just hours later he posted an update reversing the inclusion of liquor and marijuana stores in the order.
“For those of you who have been asking the Public Health Order has been updated to include marijuana and liquor stores. Please do not panic buy,” he wrote on Twitter.
The Denver Post said some stores saw long lines forming outside shops as residents rushed to buy alcohol and cannabis.
The report suggested residents were violating social distancing orders in their attempts to stock up before the closure.
Wine and liquor store co-owner Josh Robinson told The Denver Post that his staff had to act as security at his store, only allowing a new shopper in when another one left.
“It’s created a safety issue in the short term,” Mr Robinson told the local newspaper.
The Order has been updated with the following changes::
· Liquor stores with extreme physical distancing in place will be exempt.
· All marijuana stores with extreme physical distancing in place will be exempt.
· All construction operations and projects will be exempt.— City and County of Denver (@CityofDenver)March 23, 2020
“The mayor said not to panic buy, but that is exactly what he encouraged people to do by shutting us down.”
The statement outlined a reversal of the original restrictions regarding liquor and marijuana stores, but only with the implementation of extreme social-distancing measures.