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Progressive Colorado city forced to modify order banning college-age  people from gathering in groups of two

Forced isolation

Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images

Thanks to a modification of a public health order, people ages 18 to 22 years old in Boulder, Colorado, will now be allowed to gather in groups of two again.

Changes to the drastic measure, which effectively forced college-age individuals to live in complete isolation, were made after the county's public health agency was hit with an onslaught of negative feedback, including from young people who said they did not always feel safe while alone, the Denver Channel reported Monday.

Feedback also reportedly requested more provisions for other legal activities and for people with disabilities.

The kind and reasonable people at Boulder County Public Health apparently received the feedback with open minds and have graciously moved to allow young adults the ability to see one other person.

The health department also suggested that students concerned about walking on campus alone should contact Colorado University police or download the Guardian app and designate a family member or friend to virtually track their movements.

What's the background?

After a surge of outbreaks in dormitories and fraternity houses were reported earlier this month, Boulder health officials decided to enact the most extreme measure they could possibly conceive of by banning gatherings of any kind for college-age people.

Officials also placed residents of 36 addresses linked to health order violations in a mandatory quarantine, preventing them from leaving their residence for any reason except to attain medical care or food, or to exercise alone.

The order took effect on Sept. 24 and was slated to last two weeks, although it is subject to extension. Violators could face fines and possible jail time or, if they are students at the University of Colorado, expulsion.

The ban on college-age gatherings coincided with the suspension of in-person classes and an emergency order prohibiting the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m.

Anything else?

In theory, cutting people off from each other completely would be the best way to stem an outbreak. But it also puts nearly every other facet of society on pause, and not without consequences of its own.

That evidently was not a primary concern for health department director Jeff Zayach, who insisted "we must take stronger action to stop the spread of this virus in our community."

"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," he added.

Democratic Gov. Jared Polis stood by the city's decision.

"Governor Polis knows that 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," read a statement from the governor's office.

One last thing…
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