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Teller County hopeful state will approve variance request to reopen

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Posted at 3:05 PM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 17:05:44-04

TELLER COUNTY — Teller County Commissioners and the Teller County Sheriff's Office released a joint message to citizens Wednesday regarding COVID-19 and the current state orders.

The message says the county recognizes the difficulties caused by the current restrictions and that many Teller County residents are facing hard times. It says that the county recognizes that a balance must be found between protecting public health and protecting long-term economic health.

The county said that in support of local business owners, employees, and residents, on May 8 a request was submitted to the state for a variance from the Safer-at-Home Order to help the county economy start to reopen and recover. In order to demonstrate the unique circumstances that justify a variance from the state order, input was sought from local businesses and community members, the county said.

Recently, Teller County Public Health served papers to Russ' Place in Divide.

The Notice of Violation given to the restaurant was in regards to people sitting outside on the restaurant's patio and drinking beverages as they waited for their to-go order. One of the co-owners said he was told that due to Colorado's public health order that wasn't allowed.

"We didn't like that because we're down about 80%. We said no, we're going to sell them beer. We've had enough," co-owner Bob Kerr said.

It was about a week later when they were served papers. Kerr also said that late Tuesday afternoon he got a call from the state liquor board telling him they are going to revoke his license. He said the restaurant is still going to operate.

News 5's Caiti Blase reached out to the sheriff's office who said they are encouraging businesses to comply, but that there is no enforcement on their end.

Some community members are asking for people to show their support for not only Russ' Place, but for all Teller County businesses. They're asking people to show up at Russ' Place on Thursday at noon and order food.

The message issued Wednesday concluded by saying the county is hopeful the state will recognized that Teller County can be trusted to reopen the local economy and that residents will continue to be responsible and safe.

The full message can be read here.