Colorado restaurants can open limited dine-in service May 27

Children's day camps, youth sports camps to open June 1


A long-awaited step in Colorado's relaxation of social distancing requirements arrived Monday, May 25, when Gov. Jared Polis announced that restaurants will be able to open for limited in-person dining starting in two days.

“We are still a long way from returning to normal, but these updates are a step in the right direction because Coloradans are doing a good job so far limiting our social interactions,” Polis said in a May 25 release. “If we can continue staying at home as much as possible, wearing face coverings and washing our hands when leaving the house, then we will be able to slow the spread of the virus while reigniting our economy.”

But he warned: “If not, it will cost lives, and the economic pain will also be worse.”

Colorado on March 16 ordered bars and restaurants to stop dine-in service for 30 days — still allowing delivery, take-out and drive-through service — in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.

But extensions of the shutdown have kept restaurants and bars closed — except in counties with waivers from state requirements — until now.

Restaurants will be able to open with limited seating, with different parties spaced at least 6 feet apart, and the state is encouraging local officials to allow expanded outdoor seating options. Polis has suggested cities and counties should consider seating on sidewalks, parking lots and even streets. Municipal parking areas could also be an option, he said.

“That's really the only way, with the spacing, that were going to have a thriving restaurant” industry, Polis said at a May 18 news conference. He added: Restaurants “simply can't stay in business with a quarter or half capacity.”

Polis also hoped restaurants would expand on their own property outdoors and on adjacent or non-adjacent private plots nearby, as long as they have permission of the landowner, he said at a May 26 news conference.

Bars, however, don't all have the green light to open for dine-in service. The state will evaluate in June whether establishments that do not serve food can open, according to a fact sheet from the governor's office on the new guidelines.

“The intent of this guidance is to open establishments in which people traditionally associate only with those in their party,” the fact sheet says.

Whether a business can open as a restaurant depends on whether it is set up to host patrons for meals, the fact sheet continues.

“In many cases, this is straightforward when an establishment already functions as a conventional restaurant and has a full-service kitchen,” the fact sheet says. “There may be some establishments, like breweries with large indoor and outdoor spaces, that want to change their business model to re-open and operate like a restaurant. In these cases, food must be provided by a licensed retail food establishment.”

A business could partner with neighboring restaurants to provide food or partner with food trucks, according to the fact sheet. Light snacks, such as bar nuts, or things that are commercially prepared somewhere else and heated up in a microwave don't count as food service. Allowing patrons to bring their own takeout or order food from an app does not count either, the fact sheet says.

Any establishment that can adhere to the state's guidelines and ensure access to food for on-premise consumption can open, the guidance from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says.

With dire spread, restrictions could return

The governor's office's fact sheet addresses the question: What if COVID-19 cases spike up after opening up more businesses?“

The governor won't hesitate to take the necessary steps to protect the health and safety of Coloradans,​ including going back to the stay-at-home level” of restrictions or issuing other rules, the fact sheet says.

Under the state's safer-at-home order — Colorado's current set of social distancing standards — “we must continue staying home as much as possible, and take the necessary steps like washing hands and wearing a mask when leaving the house,” the fact sheet says.

Some camps open; skiing able to open

Children's day camps and youth sports camps can open June 1, according to the governor's office's news release.

Residential overnight camps will be closed in June, and decisions for July and August overnight camps will be made in mid-June. Children's residential camps that choose to operate as day camps must work with the Colorado Department of Human Services and their local public health agency for approval.

Day camps, including mobile, youth sports camps and outdoor camps, must operate with restrictions as specified in the state's guidance.

Effective May 25, private campsites could open, according to the release. If a host county would like to keep campsites closed, county commissioners should consult with their local public health agency and then notify the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the state health department in writing, the release said. Campgrounds in the state park system are already open.

The state's Executive Order D 2020-049, which extended the closure of ski resorts, has expired, the release said. Ski resorts may work to secure approval from their local authorities in order to open.

Arapahoe Basin has announced plans to re-open for spring skiing May 27.

Polis, Colorado, restaurants, COVID-19, summer camp, Ellis Arnold


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