COVID rule changes mean neighboring businesses may have totally different rules

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DENVER (KDVR) — Thursday marks the final day businesses in Colorado will be operating under the state’s COVID-19 dial. 

Starting Friday, control will be handed over to local health departments to set the rules. However, differing rules in neighboring counties could make things more complicated for both businesses and patrons. 

“I know Friday we go down a level,” Theresa Kane, owner of Blue Spruce Brewing Company said. 

Blue Spruce is located within Arapahoe County. The brewery also has a second location in Jefferson County. Both Jeffco and Arapahoe will be sticking with the COVID dial that we’re used to until May 15. That means Blue Spruce will be allowed to operate at 100% capacity while maintaining six feet between tables. 

“So we don’t change anything,” Kane said. 

According to Kane, keeping distancing rules in place does not allow them to operate at true full capacity. The Colorado Restaurant Association estimates six-foot distancing requirements limits most establishments to 25% to 50% capacity. 

It’s a different story across the street. On the other side of County Line Road, lies Douglas County. 

“So I know that Douglas county is opting out. There’s still the mask restrictions and a lot of the stuff that we’re all used to but we’re going to be at full capacity,” Max Taps owner Dave Gardner said. 

The pub will bring all of its tables back in and return its seats to the bar. However, they will continue to prioritize cleaning and hand washing. Total, Max Taps will be able to welcome 205 customers back for business. 

“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,” Colorado Restaurant Association CEO Sonia Riggs said in a statement Wednesday. 

Both Blue Spruce and Max Taps told FOX31 they do not believe that to be the case. 

“It’s nice to get a full capacity but you also worry about a perception issue,” Gardner said. “People that might see going out in Douglas county as more dangerous which is why we still have the safety protocols in place.”

Kane is one of them. 

“We don’t want to go out in Dougals County and we live in Douglas County. We’re like, it’s too soon,” she said. 

She anticipates the bigger issue will come with confusion from customers about differing restrictions at businesses in different counties. 

“I know that they’re going to give our staff just some problems. Like, hey you know we were in Douglas county and we don’t have to do this so why do we have to,” Kane said. “We had staff crying because people get really mean.”

She urges Coloradans to have patience over the next few weeks as businesses adjust to new operating procedures. 

“You can not please everyone. We want to do everything right but we also want to stay in business,” Gardner said. “We’re ready to try to get back to normal and I completely understand if people don’t want to go just yet.”

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