Boulder County issues order halting gatherings for college-age Boulder residents

Boulder inspectors on Thursday leave stay-at-home orders for the fraternity house at 1150 College Ave. in Boulder. Boulder County has issued stay-at-home orders for residents of 36 houses in Boulder, while forbidding 18- to 22-year-olds who live in Boulder from participating in gatherings of any size. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)

Boulder County has issued an order halting all gatherings for Boulder residents between the ages of 18 and 22 and issued stay-at-home orders to more than 30 University Hill residences to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, which has surged in that age group since the start of the University of Colorado Boulder’s semester.

According to the order, which began at 4 p.m. Thursday, anyone aged 18 to 22 years old “anywhere in the city of Boulder may not participate in any gatherings of any size, whether indoors, outdoors, on or off campus, or with individuals of any age.”

The county also issued a stay-at-home order for residents of 36 addresses that “have repeatedly engaged in activities that violate public health orders or who live in congregate living situations.”

According to a release from CU Boulder, “most” of the addresses cited are fraternities and sororities.

This house at 1144 12th St. in Boulder was issued stay-at-home orders that began at 4 p.m. Thursday. Boulder County issued the orders for residents of 36 houses in Boulder, while forbidding 18- to 22-year-olds who live in Boulder from participating in gatherings of any size. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)

The order allows residents in that age group to leave home only for medical care, to obtain necessary supplies using curbside pickup or contactless delivery, or to engage in solo outdoor exercise and activity. Residents must wear a mask at all times outside of their home.

“We must take stronger action to stop the spread of this virus in our community,” said Jeff Zayach, Boulder County Public Health executive director, in a statement. “We have researched the actions we can take that would be effective while minimizing burden on those who have not been the source of increased transmission. We believe this strategy can achieve both goals.”

Those who violate the order face a misdemeanor charge and could face up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. CU Boulder students will also be reported to the university for potential discipline including exclusion from campus, suspension or expulsion.

“Everyone needs to help in the fight against the coronavirus because each one of us has an effect on the health and well-being of this community,” Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said Thursday. “Violations of public health orders by students may be handled through the university disciplinary process, as a municipal violation, or as a violation of state law. It is truly unfortunate that the increase in positive cases has reached a point where law enforcement resources may be called upon to enforce public health orders. I remain hopeful that today’s announcement will generate voluntary compliance and prevent the further spread of the virus in Boulder.”

Boulder police spokeswoman Shannon Aulabaugh said all of the addresses with stay-at-home orders were notified, and said police would be increasing patrols on University Hill to help enforce the order.

Spokesman Scott Pribble also said CU Boulder police “will be responding to reports or issues that they come across on patrol.”

While a prior county recommendation asking students quarantine made an exception for intercollegiate activities, a CU athletics spokesperson said the new order now meant the CU Buffs would be halting all workouts and practices for at least two weeks.

While health officials said there has been “little evidence” of the coronavirus spreading beyond the 18-22 age group, the continued increase in new cases in Boulder prompted the officials to help prevent the spread to other community members.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on Wednesday declared an outbreak at CU Boulder with 1,198 students and 12 staff members testing positive for the coronavirus.

When asked at a Thursday news conference if the university erred in starting the semester with in-person learning, CU officials said they were provided guidance by public health officials and had the support of the state to go forward opening campus and believed they would be able to do so while keeping the university community safe.

“We knew this was a high probability, but at the same time, we knew our students want to be back at the university and I’m pleased so far with how things have gone,” Chancellor Phil DiStefano said. “I believe we’ll see a significant change with number of infections and cases based on this order.”

Gov. Jared Polis’ office released a statement on the order, saying “the better students do avoiding gatherings, the sooner they can get back to in person learning and the sooner they can resume their regular activities. We know this isn’t the school year that any of us imagined, but urgent action is needed to prevent further spread in the community.”

To date, there have been more than 4,000 cases of coronavirus in Boulder County.

“We understand that restricting gathering of young adults can have negative effects on their mental health,” Zayach said in a statement. “We urge family and friends to support the young adults in their life during this time by being available for them and helping them access mental health resources, if needed. The more diligently this Order is followed, the sooner we’ll be able to lift it.”

CU on Wednesday went to remote learning for at least two weeks to try to slow the spread.

“We are supportive of the public health needs of the Boulder community to stop the spread of the virus,” said Dan Jones, CU Boulder Associate Vice Chancellor of Integrity, Safety and Compliance. “This new public health directive will be a strain on our students living in Boulder, and we are focusing on efforts to support them.

For detailed information, review the full Order or visit

Anyone who feels they need mental health support can contact Colorado Crisis Services any time, day or night, by calling 1-844-493-8255 or Texting “TALK” to 38255. CU Boulder students can also check mental health resources available at

The Denver Post contributed to this report.