Starting Wednesday, Denver restaurants will still be open for in-person dining, but they will limit their seating to 25% capacity and stop serving food and drinks by 10 p.m., according to a new mandate by the City.
With Denver County COVID-19 cases high enough at the end of October to trigger another stay-at-home order, according to the state’s guidelines, the City is taking this stopgap measure in an attempt to avoid another shutdown, officials say.
The new order will last a couple of weeks, at least, according to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
“We want to avoid (shutting down the economy) at all costs because of the amazing impact that it has on everyone,” Hancock said during a Tuesday press conference.
“With very few exceptions, I can tell you that our restaurants have done a phenomenal job,” he added. “And they are not targeted, I believe they are impacted by things out of our control.”
But restaurant owners say they do consider themselves unfairly targeted by these restrictions.
“We do see this as fairly punitive,” said Stephen Julia, co-owner of Denver restaurants and bars Brass Tacks, Roger’s Liquid Oasis and Curio. “You go to level three, and it automatically shuts down restaurants.”
As Julia points out, “We really do a better job than anyone at their home even does cleaning things up and keeping people safe.”
“We’ve put a lot of thought and money into (following guidelines), and we’ve kind of proven that it’s working,” he added.
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, there are no current COVID-19 outbreaks at Denver County restaurants. The last Denver restaurant outbreaks reported by the CDPHE occurred in August, when one sit-down restaurant, Mezcal, and one fast-food chain, McDonald’s, dealt with staff infections.
When asked which types of institutions were contributing to the current outbreak levels, Bob McDonald, executive director of the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, said that “all venues can contribute.”
“This new order, stemming from the state here, is geared toward addressing all of those venues where we can see cases,” McDonald added.
With smaller restaurant capacities slashing revenue even further and last call moving from 11 p.m. to 10 p.m., Julia said he wants to see assistance to help businesses survive the new restrictions.
“It would be really beneficial if there was also some positive aspect,” Julia said, citing aid, stimulus or help from the federal government as examples.
“Honestly we feel like the government needs to find a way to make people feel like they’re in it together,” Julia said. “It could make this pandemic a lot less severe, because everyone would follow the rules a little better because they’d feel supported.”
This is a developing story and will be updated.
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