200+ bars, restaurants file complaint, temporary restraining order against Gov. Polis over 10 p.m. last call

Coronavirus

DENVER (KDVR) — The Tavern League of Colorado has filed a formal complaint to fight Gov. Jared Polis’ order to cease alcohol sales at 10 p.m. nightly for the next 30 days starting on Thursday.

Polis said businesses can remain open later if they choose, but they must stop alcohol sales.

While alcohol does not cause or contribute to COVID-19, Polis said inebriation can lead to people disregarding social distancing requirements and therefore spreading the virus more easily.

On Tuesday, the Tavern League of Colorado filed a complaint about the seating order that Polis and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced. In part, the order focuses on the capacity at which bars and restaurants are allowed to operate.

Defendants have imposed strict Numerical Capacity Limits on
bars and restaurants—different than other indoor venues—that ignore the
restaurant’s total size. As a result, Colorado’s restaurants are failing at an alarming
rate, unable to pay the rent and utilities at locations that are capable of
accommodating, for example, 900 patrons in over 18,000 square feet, when they are
limited to no more than 50 patrons per room and only 100 in total. Nearly 80% of
Colorado’s restaurants report operating at under 49% capacity due to these
restrictions, with over a third able to serve less than 29% of normal capacity.

After Polis announced the new order about ceasing alcohol sales at 10 p.m., Blake Street Tavern said that the Tavern League of Colorado will amend the complaint to include a fight against the newly imposed alcohol order.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Colorado restaurant association said it is collecting data now and working on getting an industry-wide snapshot of how the order will impact establishments.

Anecdotally, we are hearing many say they will lose upwards of $1000 or $1500 a night (when already down in sales compared with last year); some establishments with strong alcohol sales are telling us as much as 40-50% of their revenue comes in between 10 and 1. Additionally, several are saying they will have to cut staff. A few are saying this may force them to close.

The amended lawsuit was filed at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

“If there were any doubt that bars and restaurants were doomed to closure before the Last Call Order, none remains,” the complaint states.

It also argues that Coloradans will “load up” on alcohol at liquor stores and host large viewing parties at their homes, which “has been demonstrated to pose a far greater danger to public health.”

A spokesperson for the governor issued the following statement:

“These are challenging times and no one wants Colorado’s small businesses to bounce back stronger more than the Governor. Based on the data and science, the Governor feels he is taking the steps that are absolutely critical in order to keep our economy reopening and prevent the virus from gaining a stranglehold. The fate of our state in both virus suppression and economic recovery is largely in the hands of Coloradans. It’s important to reduce our social interactions, remain six feet from others whenever possible, and wear facial masks when we’re in public. The State is looking at data showing that more Coloradans in their twenties are participating in social activities that increase the risk of spreading COVID-19. In order to curb those activities, the Governor has signed an Executive Order temporarily moving last call for the sale of alcohol to a consumer to 10:00 p.m.”

On Wednesday night, the Tavern League of Colorado officially filed a Temporary Restraining Order against Governor Polis. 10 p.m. last call order.

“WHEREFORE, the Tavern League respectfully requests that this Court enter a temporary
restraining order enjoining the enforcement of the Numerical Capacity Limitations and the Last Call Order, and for such other and further relief as this Court deems just and proper.”

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