Colorado events industry hopes for some relief as state moves to ease COVID restrictions

Coronavirus

DENVER (KDVR) — Several Colorado counties are expected to downgrade from Level Red to Level Orange on the state’s COVID-19 dial this week, providing relief for the restaurant and live events industries.

The move will allow restaurants to reopen for indoor dining with limited capacity, which has been prohibited under the current COVID level. It’s also a positive move for the events industry but insiders say it won’t have an immediate impact.

“It’s definitely a move in the right direction and we’re excited to see it. But that’s the thing that’s difficult to understand about the events industry — we don’t just pop right back up when you ease restrictions,” said Andy Klosterman, owner of Peak Beverage.

Klosterman says they typically plan for events months in advance and won’t necessarily gain any business by moving to a less-restrictive COVID level. He believes the move could potentially help clients feel more comfortable about planning future events.

“We live in this place where we’re thinking about July, August and September 2021 and that’s where we’re getting worried. That’s where we’re really trying to work with the state and get good information on what do we think it’s going to look like at that point in time,” said Klosterman.

Events operating under Level Orange will have to follow certain guidelines set by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Indoor seated events are allowed to operate at 25% capacity or 50 people — whichever is fewer. Outdoor seated events also have a max capacity of 25% or up to 75 people. 

Some small music venues found ways to function with that limited capacity earlier in the year but it’s not ideal.

“It’s not affordable. You still have to hire the band, hire the sound crew, have a staff,” said Sandra Holman Watts, a longtime contributor to Denver’s live events community. 

Holman Watts owned and operated Live at Jack’s, a music venue in downtown Denver for more than 20 years before COVID-19 forced her to shut down in the spring. She continues to help other struggling venues and support local musicians any way she can.

“I’m concerned about the welfare of musicians — not just in Colorado but worldwide. There’s a lot of substance abuse going on, a lot of starvation, mental health issues and sadness,” said Holman Watts.

She says the move to Level Orange likely won’t have a dramatic impact on the live events industry but it does provide some hope.

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