Colorado restaurants fight for more capacity as dine-in customers trickle in


DENVER (KDVR) — One day after Colorado restaurants reopened with limited-capacity seating, the governor says it’s not clear when those restaurants can increase their capacities.

Most everyone FOX31 has spoken to – from restaurant owners to customers – say they want to make sure it’s safe to go back to eating out during the pandemic.

That may be the reason we saw a slow return of dine customers Wednesday.

In the early evening, we saw some restaurants still trying to get their places ready to meet all the new safety guidelines.

In others, we saw a number of safety measures already in place.

Many of them we’ve talked to have said they need to fill their seats in order to survive.

At this point, they are only allowed to have 50% capacity.

On Thursday, Gov. Jared Polis said he believes the limit works best for now.

“It’s not something we are hearing from restaurants because they are not filling up the half yet. I think some of it is a natural evolution. If restaurants are jammed and if they are clamoring for more space, we can figure out how they can get more outdoors,” said Polis.

The Colorado Restaurant Association has said nearly 10% of their members will have no choice but to close after just a month of these current measures.

The CRA also said, “nearly half are in danger of permanently closing in less than three months.”

Regarding outdoor seating, the CRA said, “Those measures alone are not going ensure this industry survives.”

Still, many restaurants are working to set up outdoor seating.

In Denver, so far one restaurant – The Dive Inn on Broadway – has been approved to add patio seating.

Thirteen others are in the process of completing final inspections.

About 400 restaurants have applied for the outdoor seating permit.

The process is said to be meticulous and requires time to complete to insure safety.

On Thursday, Polis continued driving home the point of asking older Coloradans to stay home.

His mother reinforced the idea, saying her grandson’s piano concerts help her cope.

“Obviously we don’t want to get sick and we don’t want to get anybody else sick, so we felt it’s very important to stay home. We haven’t seen anybody since March 1,” Susan Polis Shulz said.

The state has said it will be reviewing the current Safer At Home guidelines on June 1.

At that time, we’ll learn if restrictions will continue to be loosened.

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