Restaurants that fail COVID-19 orders may lose their licenses, says governor

Businesses in Colorado that are unwilling to comply with restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 could lose their licenses, even if their county refused to comply with the rules, Governor Jared Polis said Tuesday afternoon.

Across the state, 22 counties are in red on the state’s COVID-19 dial, including most of the Front Range. At the Red Level, most businesses can only operate at 25% of capacity; gyms and offices are limited to 10%; indoor meals are prohibited; and restaurants with outdoor seating do not serve alcohol after 20 p.m.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment can suspend or revoke licenses for restaurants that do not take steps to prevent the spread of diseases such as salmonella, Polis said, and the ministry can enforce epidemic restrictions in the same way.

Weld County commissioners said last week they would not implement Red Red restrictions. Three intensive beds were available on Tuesday in Weld County, although some additional beds were also available in the surrounding areas.

A group of Larimer County business owners also announced Tuesday morning that they would ignore the new restrictions after their county moved to Red Level and continued to operate at Yellow Level. At this level, most businesses are able to operate at 50% capacity.

Larimer County Public Health did not respond to the comments on the business statement.

Participating businesses said in a press release that county retailers could operate safely at the level of previous restrictions, with only 27 people dying in Loveland. Since the outbreak, 66 people have died in Larimer County.

By Tuesday morning, Larimer had about 890 new cases for every 100,000 people, and 12.3% of the tests were positive, indicating no infections were detected.

Morgen Harrington, co-owner of Grimm Brothers Brewhouse and QT Beer Labs, said he said companies that complied with public health measures should not be penalized. If your businesses have to shut down and lay off employees, some will struggle to pay rent next month, he said.

“Closing small businesses is not the answer,” he said.

While new cases appear to be stabilizing in recent days, it is estimated that one in every 41 Colorado will be infected with the virus, Polis said at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. Hospital care has continued to grow, with more than a third of hospitals claiming to be short-lived.

Current forecasts predict Colorado will exceed intensive therapeutic capacity in mid-January, although the breaking point could occur sooner if the spread of the virus accelerates again, said state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy. If the state stays on its current trajectory, another 3,800 more people could die in COVID-19 by the end of the year because so many have already become infected.

An 80% reduction in infection would mean we live like we did in May, said Dr. Jon Samet, dean of the Colorado School of Public Health.