How Colorado Restaurants Might Reopen During Coronavirus

May 19, 2020
Restaurants Offer To-Go Menus During Coronavirus OutbreakRestaurants Offer To-Go Menus During Coronavirus OutbreakHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Gov. Jared Polis put a 30-day order in place to stop restaurants and bars from offering dine-in services during the coronavirus outbreak. Many restaurants are offering to-go menus during that time, including Neighbors in Denver’s Park Hill neighborhood.

Colorado’s restaurants could be permitted to serve food in dining rooms if a minimum of eight feet is maintained between tables, according to new draft guidelines released by the state. 

Party sizes would be limited to six people, the guidelines stipulate, and all employees would be required to wear facial coverings and gloves. The same rules would apply to outdoor seating. 

Bars will remain closed to in-person patrons. A date for reopening isn’t specified, and the guidelines are still subject to change.

The restaurant industry has been decimated by stay-at-home orders enacted in March to stop the spread of COVID-19. The industry remains shuttered to onsite dining even as other businesses — such as retailers and salons — are starting to welcome customers back. Earlier this month, Gov. Jared Polis said he planned to decide whether restaurants and bars could reopen by Memorial Day weekend.

The guidelines say that capacity would be limited, but they don’t specify how limited. Almost a quarter of restaurant owners say they would have to close permanently within a month of reopening if dining rooms are capped at 25 percent capacity, according to a recent survey from the Colorado Restaurant Association. Roughly two-thirds said they would be forced to shut down within three months, the survey found. 

Additional precautions outlined in the proposal include reducing congregating in and around establishments by encouraging reservations and prohibiting communal seating. Bar seating and buffets would be banned, as would dancing, and games such as pool and darts. 

This is a developing story and will be updated.