Some Colorado Bars Are Closed Again Because Of Coronavirus Fears. Here Are The Rules

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Adding to life’s challenges with coronavirus and social distancing in Denver on Thursday, March 19, 2020. Like all bars ordered closed in Colorado, this one inside Denver Central Market is closed and deserted.

With bars forced to close just weeks after they reopened, some Coloradans have questions about the change in rules and what’s allowed now.

Gov. Jared Polis ordered bars closed again because it was “too big of a risk” to have people socializing in the bar scene. Colorado has seen a rise in positive COVID-19 cases through the latter half of June but it’s not as widespread as other states. Arizona and Texas have attributed their outbreaks to nightclubs and bars, Polis said.

Now this change may have you flustered about visiting your favorite bar or hangout. Essentially what you need to know is that if the bar sells food, it’s allowed to stay open. It’s slightly more complicated than that but stick with me.

The bar must have a license to sell food or partner with a licensed food vendor like a food truck and allow people to eat on-site. The establishment must also follow social distancing restrictions, like the 6-foot-distance between tables and arranging seats so that people can only congregate with the party they arrived with.

Not the breweries! It’s Colorado. What about breweries???

CPR News received a question through Colorado Wonders about whether breweries would be allowed to stay open.

Is the brewery licensed to sell food or does it have a food vendor onsite? If the answer is yes, then your favorite brewery or pub house is saved. Polis’ executive order says breweries are allowed to operate in the same way a bar would. They must sell food and follow social distancing guidelines.

Bars and breweries that do not serve food from a licensed retail establishment must stop in-person services.

I’m not ready to socialize yet. Can I still get a takeout marg?

You sure can. If the establishment offers the service, you can walk up, drive up or even get your margarita delivered.

Wait. My favorite bar is in a county with a variance. What happens then?

You should check what your county has a variance for first.

Waitress Cassy Chavez-Gibbons, daughter of the owners of The Sunset Inn in Pueblo, said she was confused after the announcement that bars would be forced to closed. Pueblo County has a variance so she wasn’t sure if the restaurant and bar should follow statewide or county health orders.

“It was really a bummer actually because we actually closed down this whole time and we just opened last Monday on June 22,” she said. “Calling and going around, finding out different things from different resources, it's a pain in the butt. But it's worth it because we want to make sure we're doing it right.”

A county variance takes precedence over statewide health orders. So long as the county allows bars and breweries to be open under their local variance, they can stay open. Pueblo County’s variance allows restaurants, bars, personal services and more to open so The Sunset will stick with its reopening plan, Chavez-Gibbons said.

More information about restaurant and food services can be found here.