Colorado bars, restaurants ordered to close dine-in operations for 30 days
Gov. Jared Polis has ordered Colorado bars and restaurants to suspend dine-in services for the next 30 days.
The order, which also includes the temporary closure of gyms, theaters and casinos, follows the lead of states like New York, New Jersey, California, Connecticut, Ohio and Illinois, which recently instituted similar measures to tamp the potential spread of coronavirus and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.
The order came from Polis just before 5 p.m. Monday during a live news conference — a few hours to a few days after an array of Fort Collins restaurant and brewery owners had electively closed down or limited their taproom hours in response to the COVID-19 threat.
"These are unprecedented times," Rio Grande Restaurant CEO and Rare Italian partner Jason Barrett told the Coloradoan on Monday morning after announcing both restaurants would shutter for eight weeks.
"We've been through a lot over the years, 9/11, the mortgage crisis, but this is new ground for everybody. It was an agonizing decision but the right decision."
As of Tuesday afternoon, a health care worker employed at the North Shore Health & Rehab Facility in Loveland had tested positive for COVID-19. A resident had also tested positive for the virus.
Though the employee lives in Weld County, they are connected to Larimer County's first positive case of coronavirus — a Johnstown woman who worked at Banner Health facilities in both counties.
The day before — on Sunday evening — Larimer County public health officials called for the cancellation or postponement of events with more than 250 attendees as well as for the closures of senior community centers across the county. On Tuesday, Tom Gonzales, director of public health for Larimer County told county commissioners that he will prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people, as recommended by the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Before Polis' order, The Mayor of Old Town in Fort Collins had announced Saturday that it would close for two weeks. New Belgium Brewing, Odell Brewing, Horse & Dragon Brewing Co., High Hops Brewery, Red Truck Brewing and Crooked Stave had all announced either full taproom closures or limited to-go beer sales.
"I’ve spent 21 years in Marine Corps and been through quite a bit," Barrett added. "But this is the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen.”
Coloradoan reporter Kevin Duggan and Coloradoan editor Jennifer Hefty contributed to this report.
Editor's note: As the coronavirus outbreak continues to evolve, we don’t want you to panic. In fact, quite the opposite. That’s why the Coloradoan is committed to providing you with accurate, up-to-date information so you can make informed decisions on issues affecting you and the people you love. As such, this story, and many others, are being provided free for all to read. Help us continue this important work by subscribing to the Coloradoan.
Erin Udell reports on news, culture, history and more for the Coloradoan. Contact her at ErinUdell@coloradoan.com. The only way she can keep doing what she does is with your support. If you subscribe, thank you. If not, sign up for a subscription to the Coloradoan today.