The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment believes that C&C Coffee and Kitchen in Castle Rock is causing "an immediate health hazard," Gov. Jared Polis said at a May 11 news conference.
A Castle Rock restaurant reopened its doors to full dine-in service May 10, allowing dozens of customers inside despite public health orders put in place in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As such, CDPHE and the state are using their authority under the Colorado Food Protection Act to take action and suspend the license of the business indefinitely, probably for at least 30 days, until it can be established that there’s no longer a threat to the public heath,” Polis said. “We know Tri-County Health is also working on enforcement actions and we are supportive of those efforts.”
As governor and "as a big believer in the free market," Polis said he is disappointed when businesses break the law and draw legal penalties.
But if C&C's actions were emulated in other parts of Colorado and dozens of restaurants opened illegally, "at least a couple of those would have coronavirus outbreaks" that would spread to dozens of people in "that kind of packed-in, illegal environment," Polis said.
"If the state didn't act, and more businesses followed suit, it’s a near guarantee that people would lose their lives and it woud fulther the delay opening of our legitimate businesses that want to follow the laws of our state to keep their customers and staff safe," Polis continued.
At first, Polis admonished businesses like C&C Coffee and Kitchen, without naming the business.
He thanked Coloradans who “resisted the temptation” to hold large Mother's Day celebrations.
“On the other hand, like most Coloradans, I was extremely disappointed to see people and businesses actively breaking the law and defying public health orders this weekend,” Polis said. “We all have laws that we agree with and laws we disagree with, but it's our responsibility as Coloradans and as Americans to follow the law. And I join most Coloradans in our frustration watching videos of people illegally packed into restaurants, and thinking about all the moms and grandmothers and aunts and everyone who is put at increased risk of dying from this horrible virus.”
Adhering to social distancing can make the difference “between going on living or suffering a particularly agonizing, painful and lonely death,” Polis continued.
“I encourage folks to read some of the stories of those who are suffering from coronavirus or who have lost loved ones, and imagine that it was yourself or a family member,” Polis said.
Polis said at a May 8 news conference that restaurants could be able to open in May.
The state will make an announcement on May 25 about next steps for restaurants, Polis said May 11. The state is waiting on “two generations” of COVID-19 transmission data after the safer-at-home went into effect in late April, Polis said. Because of the virus’ incubation period — the time between when a person is exposed and when symptoms appear — the state doesn’t know the impact of each social distancing policy until about two weeks after it is put in place, Polis has said.
“I am still cautiously optimistic that we will be able to open some (dine-in) services and especially patio services during the month of May,” Polis said on May 11.
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