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Colorado releases draft guidelines for restaurants, bars to begin reopening; feedback sought

Gov. Polis will make decision on if state is ready for next step on May 25
Colorado releases draft guidelines for restaurants, bars to begin reopening; feedback sought
Posted at 5:44 AM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-22 16:57:50-04

DENVER – Colorado released the draft guidelines for restaurants, bars and cafes to begin reopening Tuesday – which shows the standards those eateries will have to meet in order to begin reopening and focuses on implementing outdoor seating and limiting interactions.

Owners and managers of restaurants and other stakeholders will have through Friday to give feedback to the state on the draft guidelines through a form.

Gov. Jared Polis and his administration then plan to decide on May 25 if Colorado has kept up COVID-19 prevention efforts enough during the safer at home phase to allow restaurants and bars to reopen, and when they could potentially start doing so.

At eateries that want to continue only pick-up and delivery services, most of the same guidelines in place during the stay-at-home and safer-at-home phases would still apply. But employers would have to conduct daily temperature checks and monitor symptoms of employees to report to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Symptom Tracker.

But for restaurants that want to open for dine-in options, there is a strict set of rules in the draft guidelines – which are still subject to change after input from the stakeholders.

In outdoor seating, there would have to be at least 8 feet of spacing between tables, all employees would have to wear facial coverings and gloves and shared surfaces would have to be deep-cleaned between seatings.

In an indoor setting, similar guidelines would apply, but the restaurant would also need OSHA-approved ventilation.

Parties would be limited to six people or less, and reservations would be strongly encouraged to be used by restaurants. The guidance also advises that restaurants and bars should have no communal seating, no self-service or seat-yourself options, no bar seating if it is being for food or beverage service, clearly marked floor spacing suggestions and marked placards to show when tables are not available.

Signage would be posted saying that people with COVID-19 symptoms should not enter, according to the draft guidelines.

Bars and restaurants would also be encouraged to remove games that require touching objects and close proximity and to clean any shared objects thoroughly between uses.

The guidelines also encourage owners to give customers options to sign in when they come to a facility to allow them easier abilities to contact people if any exposure happens.

They also say that owners should request that customers wear facial coverings when not eating or drinking and that owners should consider refusing service to customers who refuse to hygienic and social distancing guidelines in the same manner they would refuse a person alcohol.

Finally, the guidelines say that if there is a confirmed case among customers or employees, the restaurant “must notify and cooperate with their local public health agency on next steps.”

Denver officials talked about many of the plans to implement dine-in services within the city earlier Tuesday in a conference call with business owners and the Colorado Restaurant Association.

Restaurant, bar, café and other food service business owners are asked to review the state draft guidelines and provide feedback on this form by the end of the day Friday.

Gov. Polis has said he hopes to have restaurants back open in some capacity by the end of the month but only if Coloradans are keeping up their end of the bargain in keeping case spread low and hospitals from being overwhelmed.