Some restaurants say capacity guidelines are stricter than they appear

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DENVER (KDVR) — Restaurants in Colorado will be allowed to reopen to dine-in services on Wednesday with restrictions.

But some of the rules are so strict, reopening dining rooms will not make much of a difference.

Juan Padro is the owner of several restaurants in the Denver area. Some of them have a smaller capacity which creates a different set of concerns.

“We are going to do our best to work within them,” said Padro.

According to the new rules released by the governor’s officer, restaurants may open to in-person dining indoors at 50 percent of the posted occupancy code limit, not to exceed 50 people.

Padro said that requirement, combined with the rule that tables and groups must be six feet apart, reduces seating capacity well beyond the 50 percent they propose for smaller spaces.  

“You’ll get about 20 percent of your seating so that doesn’t really work,” said Padro. For some of his smaller restaurants, like Senor Bear and Bar Dough, it gets even worse.

“The reality is that you’re only going to get 12 to 18 people in the restaurant,” said Padro.

Gov. Polis and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock are encouraging eateries to use outdoor space to allow for more tables. But Padro said he has run into that problem with mixed information and even more restrictions.

“There are some restrictions that we are probably going to need to reconsider and we are going to be as patient as we can,” added Padro.

On Monday, the City of Denver said it was processing 375 applications for expanding outdoor seating.

Padro hopes the new guidelines will be very temporary because even though he can allow customers back in, it comes at a cost.  He has to rent more tables for the outside, he has to buy personal protective equipment, as well as new fencing and barriers.

“You’re asking us to follow these guidelines, but there’s no plan for any kind of financial support,” he added.

Padro acknowledges the mayor and the governor are in a tough spot having to make hard choices while putting the safety of the public first. He adds, however, that the reality is he doesn’t know how long his restaurants can survive even under the new guidelines.

He hopes to have the Tap and Burger locations opened to dine-in customers by Wednesday with the others by the weekend.

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