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DENVER (KDVR) — Restaurants across Colorado are getting creative to try and stay in business during Level Red restrictions.

More than a dozen counties entered Level Red over the weekend, meaning no indoor dining is allowed. 

“It’s better than a complete and total shutdown,” says Mary McKnabb. “But this is pretty bad.” 

McKnabb is the co-owner of Inga’s Alpine Tavern, where staff spent Saturday morning setting up a large tent on the back patio. 

Inside the restaurant, chairs are stacked upside down, to ensure nobody tries to grab a seat inside.

“We want our guests to be safe, we want our staff to be safe, we don’t want anyone to get COVID,” she says. “So we’re going to follow all the guidelines from the experts.”

The patio can only seat about 44 people, which is less than half of what they can normally seat inside. But McKnabb says the new 8 p.m. cutoff is equally damaging.

“To be honest, I don’t know if we can make it or not, because the restrictions are so severe,” she says.

On the patio, Renee Handley wore a sweater and a vest. 

“The more beers you drink, the warmer you are, so it’s great,” she joked. 

Restaurant owners across the state say the next few weeks of takeout and outdoor dining will be critical to staying in business.

McKnabb says takeout orders are great, but says outdoor dining will allow her to keep her staff employed.

“We are able to keep more employed, more employees can pay their rent and their bills if you’re willing to come visit us and sit on the patio,” she says.