After being closed for more than two months, restaurants across Colorado can reopen for dine-in service on Wednesday, May 27. The announcement came Monday afternoon via an update to Governor Jared Polis’ safer-at-home executive order. Polis released finalized reopening guidelines for restaurants on Sunday.

“Coloradans value our diverse culinary scene and amazing restaurants, and I’m proud that our state is now providing science-based guidelines on how restaurants can open as safely as reasonably possible for their employees and customers,” Polis stated in the announcement. “Diners will have more space between tables and at many restaurants, more opportunities to eat outside. The safest thing anyone can do is stay home whenever possible, but for those who want to shop and dine we want to make sure it can be done as safely as possible.”

The reopening guidelines issued by Polis are a little more relaxed than the original proposition he shared last week, but, going forward, dining out will still involve facial coverings, social distancing, and a whole lot of disinfecting. Bars that don’t serve food are to remain closed, but will be evaluated in June.

As expected, indoor dining will be restricted to half of each establishment’s posted occupancy or 50 people, whichever is less. Polis encourages restaurants to provide as much outdoor seating as possible, something the city of Denver is trying to facilitate with a new proposal to expand outdoor seating to areas like parking lots, lawns, sidewalks, and even streets.

Inside or out, tables will have to be spaced six feet apart. Also under the new rules, all employees will have to wear facial coverings and diners should wear them when not eating or drinking. There will be no more seating yourself, buffets, community tables, bar games (such as darts, pool, and arcade games), shared condiments, or reusable menus. No more than eight people can be seated together, and reservations are strongly recommended to limit the number of people congregating. (And if you do have to wait for a table, you have to do so off premises.)

It is also recommended that restaurants provide a sign-in option so diners can more easily be notified of any potential virus exposure. To keep employees and consumers safe, shared objects must be disinfected between uses, bathrooms have to be cleaned every hour, and hand sanitizer should be provided throughout the venue.

Some counties have allowed the reopening of restaurants earlier than the coming week, as Polis permitted them to apply for a variance with the state so long as they had low COVID-19 counts and/or experienced two weeks of case declines. Mayor Michael Hancock issued a statement today saying that Denver would align with the state and also allow restaurants to open for dine-in service on May 27.

Allyson Reedy
Allyson Reedy
Allyson Reedy is a freelance writer and ice cream fanatic living in Broomfield.