Some local businesses requiring customers to pay COVID-19 surcharges


DENVER (KDVR) — From dental clinics to restaurants, and hair salons to spas, businesses are adding COVID-19 surcharges to bills. 

Denver area business owners say that doing business during a pandemic is not cheap. They are grappling with the added costs of personal protective equipment (PPE) and disinfectant.

Just about every business is feeling the pandemic pinch, and now, consumers are feeling it too.

“I’m looking across the country, and I’m seeing a real mix. Surcharges and price increases,” said Chris Fuselier, owner of Blake Street Tavern in Denver.

While forced to keep his dining room closed, Fuselier’s costs have gone up as he anticipates reopening. He’s paying more for PPE and the constant cleaning required during a pandemic.

“We’ve got two problems,” Fuselier said. “The cost of sanitizing and the rise in food prices.”

On Twitter, the tavern has been transparent by warning of what’s to come with a roughly 5 percent increase. The tavern is asking customers if they’d rather see surcharges or a flat percentage increase on menu items across the board.

The European Wax Center in Aurora recently alerted customers via email of a $2 sanitation surcharge.

For dentists, balancing the cost of business and patient satisfaction has not been easy.

“We’re trying to make it super simple and super easy,” said Emilie Gerber with Level.

Level is an employer-funded dental plan, and one of the few in the country reimbursing dentists for the extra costs of PPE.

“All [the dentists] have to do is put in this code that’s often used for miscellaneous procedures and they’re reimbursed up to $12 [per visit],” Gerber explained.

Some insurance companies have refused to pay for extra PPE — forcing the dentists to take a loss or pass the cost to patients.

“Really when you think about dental offices — they’re small businesses just like any other small business, so they’re suffering right now too,” Gerber explained.

In the end, it is all an extra cost. But, if done honestly and transparently, health experts say it’s an important cost aimed at making safety and health the top priorities.

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