Fewer Denver restaurants are likely to receive the dreaded public notice on their door if they violate food-safety guidelines in 2011. But, eateries will be subject to faster fines as of January 1 under new guidelines ordered by the Denver City Council, writes the Denver Business Journal. Currently, restaurants can sustain two warnings for critical food-safety violations in an 18-month period before they are fined (unless violations are found to pose an imminent public health threat, which can lead to closure).

Under the new system, critical violations will earn a $250 fine after one warning within 12 months. If there is a third violation, the fine rises to $500. But door notices will only be issued in the worst cases, such as rodent or insect infestation, and they will now be posted immediately, instead of 30 days after the violation, and bear a $2,000 fine per violation on the second citation.

Pete Meersman, president and CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association, says restaurants generally support the changes to an “unfair” system, noting that the most serious violators will now face the harshest punishment and the less serious violators won’t suffer the loss of business associated with public notices on their front doors. “Anything that protects consumers and customers is a good thing,” David Query, owner of Jax Fish House and Lola, tells The Denver Post. “It’s our last hope and desire to have any issue with food-borne illness in a restaurant.”