Colorado Restaurant Association responds to loosened COVID-19 restrictions

Coronavirus

FILE – In this Monday, Dec. 28, 2020, file photo, a server wears a face mask while tending to a patron sitting in the outdoor patio of a sushi restaurant, in downtown Denver. Restaurants devastated by the coronavirus outbreak are getting a lifeline from the pandemic relief package awaiting final approval in the House. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

DENVER (KDVR) — Mayor Hancock announced that Denver will be moving to Level Blue capacity restrictions starting on Friday. This means people don’t have to wear masks outside and restaurants can open to 100% capacity if parties can remain six feet apart.

The president and CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association, Sonia Riggs, released a statement following the mayors announcement on looser restrictions:

We are grateful to Colorado’s local public health agencies for pushing vaccinations out to the public–and to restaurant workers, in particular–and for working to reopen our local economies and help restaurants safely get back to 100% capacity. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of getting the restaurant industry on the path to economic recovery, and that recovery cannot even begin until restaurants resume operations at full capacity without social distancing.

That said, the health and safety of the industry’s workers and customers has been front of mind since the onset of the pandemic, and we trust that local public health officials will work to ensure the safety of the industry and its customers as they reevaluate local public health orders in the coming days. Denver County loosening restrictions to “Level Blue” as of Friday, April 16 and allowing restaurants to operate at 100% capacity with six-feet distancing still in place is a step forward for large restaurants and venues with ample square footage, but the six-foot distancing rules prevent small- to mid-size restaurants from being able to open at 100% capacity—and many restaurants will remain at below 50% capacity. Until the six-foot distancing requirements are lifted, most restaurants will be stuck operating between 25% and 50% capacity.

Unfortunately, an unintended consequence of each county establishing their own guidelines will be the creation of a competitive advantage for restaurants located in counties with fewer restrictions and the potential loss of business for restaurants in surrounding counties with stricter safety guidelines. We also have concerns about the confusion that a patchwork of local public health orders will create both for the industry and diners. We encourage local public health agencies to work to clearly communicate these changes so that the industry and its workers are not responsible for educating their customers about the specifics of this rapidly changing regulatory landscape.

Sonia Riggs

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