Colorado health department releases draft guidelines for restaurants to reopen

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Published Thursday, May 21, 2020
by Derek Draplin | The Center Square

(The Center Square) - Colorado's state health department released draft guidelines for restaurants and bars to begin a limited reopening of in-person dining services.  

Governor Jared Polis said Monday the state would be taking public input on the draft guidelines, which were released Tuesday. He added a final reopening plan will be released May 25.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's draft guidelines require restaurants and food providers to close by 10 p.m., and allow limited dine-in services both indoors and outdoors. Food establishments can submit comments on the draft until Friday via an online portal.

Parties must be limited to six people or less, and parties must maintain at least eight feet of distance between them for indoor and outdoor dine-in services.  

"No bar seating if the bar is being used for food or beverage service," the draft guidelines add. "If it's not being used for service then parties could sit there under same requirements as a regular table." 

The draft guidance says all employees must wear masks and gloves, and are subject to temperature checks and monitoring for symptoms. 

The guidelines also urge businesses to use reservation systems "to help aid in contact tracing" in case of an outbreak, and bars restaurants from offering communal seating or seat-yourself options.

Industry estimates indicated restaurants and food service workers have been especially hard hit since restaurants and bars in Colorado first closed to dine-in service on March 16.

An April survey from the National Restaurant Association found 173,000 restaurant employees representing 73 percent of the industry in Colorado had been laid off or furloughed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The trade group also estimated that Colorado's restaurant and food service industry would lose $975 million in April.

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