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Polis Suspends All On-Site Dining, Drinking in Colorado for 30 Days

Restaurants and bars may remain open for takeout and delivery only.

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To help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Colorado, governor Jared Polis ordered the closure of all bars and restaurants as well as gyms, casinos, theaters, and other large gathering places across the state for 30 days. This follows Denver mayor Michael Hancock’s Monday morning announcement that city bars and restaurants would close for eight weeks through May 11.

In the Monday afternoon news conference, Polis stated that the 30-day suspension of bar and restaurant on-site dining and drinking, which is effective immediately, could be renewable after that period is up. Restaurants, however, may remain open for takeout and delivery.

“These steps are very painful for our state, and while again, they may be an inconvenience to you if you’re a customer, imagine how difficult they are for the workers and the owners of those facilities, many of whom will have a tough time remaining viable, the workers that will lose their jobs,” Polis said. “These are very difficult decisions, the goal of which are to reduce the severity and duration of this public health crisis.”

Polis acknowledged the major impact this decree will have on the small business restaurants across the state, especially considering how notoriously tough the industry already is. To keep revenue up, many restaurants have ramped up delivery service and embraced carryout efforts, like the Sage Restaurant Concepts-led Keep Calm and Carry Out initiative.

Bars are being hit especially hard, as current law prohibits them from selling drinks to be taken off-premise. To address this loss of revenue to bars and restaurants in New York, which were also ordered closed, New York governor Andrew Cuomo made a special regulation change allowing bars, restaurants, and distilleries to offer alcoholic drinks for takeout. So far, there is no word on whether Denver or Colorado will follow suit.

“When it’s safe, we want to go out, we want to go celebrate at bars and clubs. We want to dine out,” Polis stated at the news conference. “We want to celebrate in places that we can congregate, but I think you all know who are watching this, that that day is not today. It’s not tomorrow. It’s not likely to be next week or the week after. Our hearts go out to the 240,000 employees in the food and beverage industry. Again, we want them to be creative—delivery, carryout, other ways that they can continue to operate subject to CDC guidance and public health protocols.”

Polis also said that the state will adopt and operationalize CDC guidelines in real time, which could further impact what our dining out future will look like.

“I know this is a difficult time, but we’re in this together and we’re going to get through this together,” he said.

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