In a special meeting Wednesday night, Aspen City Council authorized a midnight curfew on retail businesses, restaurants and bars. Councilmembers hoped the order would prevent restaurants from evolving into bar-like atmospheres late at night.
Councilmembers said that some states that reopened bars have seen spikes in COVID-19 cases, and councilmembers said this ordinance is aimed at preventing the same in Aspen.
“I’ve seen ample evidence of public gatherings causing spikes," said councilmember Ward Hauenstein. "I think I speak for all of council, that we do not want to have to shut down our town again."
Aspen Police will enforce the new curfew, and refer violations to the Pitkin County complaint phone line. Establishments caught violating the rule could be punished with a 15 day suspension of their business or liquor license. The curfew will go into place on July 3 and remain effective until Aug. 25.
“I believe a time comes when we need to take decisive action to protect Aspen, and now is that time,” Hauenstein said.
Gas stations are exempted from the curfew.
Councilmember Rachael Richards emphasized that many businesses and events have been forced to make sacrifices through the duration of the summer, and this ordinance would be a continuation of efforts to keep transmission rates low in Aspen.
Councilmember Skippy Mesirow argued that the duration of the ordinance should be shortened and businesses should be allowed to apply for exemptions. He was met with broad opposition from other councilmembers.