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Inside Tetra 9, a private cannabis lounge at 3039 Walnut Street in RiNo, during a 2018 event.
Inside Tetra 9, a private cannabis lounge at 3039 Walnut Street in RiNo, during a 2018 event.
Photo by Jacqueline Collins

What Happens to a Denver Business Closed Over COVID-19 Violations

Through August 17, 78 Denver businesses had been cited for COVID-19 health order violations, including a half-dozen closed by the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment. And the punishment meted out to those six didn't end there.

Before they're allowed to reopen, according to the DDPHE, shuttered enterprises need to come up with a plan to prevent infractions in the future, get approval from authorities to implement it, and be prepared for extra scrutiny to make sure it's being followed.

Here's the closure roster, listed chronologically from the date action against them was taken, along with the DDPHE's description of their alleged transgressions and the dates when they were allowed to reopen. The onlyi exception is Tetra 9, a private cannabis lounge. According to DDPHE spokesperson Tammy Vigil, corresponding via email, "Tetra is a facility that allows onsite consumption and is not allowed to be open under current PHO [public health order]."

8/1: Your Mom's House (608 E. 13th Ave) — ticketed, placards, and closure for violation of PHO and Face covering order. Reopened August 18.

8/2: Welcome Inn (3659 Chestnut Pl) — ticketed, closure, and placard for violation of PHO and face covering order, including sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. Reopened August 19.

8/7: Williams Tavern (423 E. 17th Ave) — ticketed, placard, and closure for sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. No access to food after 10 p.m., patrons order drinks from bar where drinks are prepared. Patrons mingling, no social distancing, and little face covering compliance. Reopened August 18.

8/8: Tetra 9 (3039 Walnut St) — ticketed, placard, and closure for violations of on-site consumption of smoking products, and facility did not correct orders and GV previously issued on 7/31.

8/12: Fast Performance (4650 Leyden St) — ticketed, placard, and closure for owner and 9 out of 10 patrons not wearing face coverings while all working out in a single room. Facility previously ticketed on 8/10 for employees not wearing face coverings. Reopened August 24.

8/14: Nativ Hotel (1612 Wazee) — Patrons in parties larger than 8 mingling and not social distancing. Previous orders/GV issued on 8/7. Reopened August 21.

What happens after the doors are forcibly locked? DDPHE's Vigil explains, "If a business is closed, the business must submit a mitigation plan to be reviewed by the department in order to reopen. The department will review the mitigation plan and provide written approval to reopen when plan is approved."

There's no specific timeline for action, Vigil continues: "These plans are reviewed in the order that they are received." Moreover, she adds, "A mitigation plan may be denied by the department or the business may be asked to address deficiencies in the mitigation plan and resubmit to the department."

Once the new approach is given the DDPHE's blessing, Vigil notes, "The business will be monitored during routine monitoring to ensure compliance. If complaints are received regarding the business, they too will be responded to, as all complaints are being responded to by our department at this time."

Multiple violations aren't a guarantee of a closure order. Enzo’s End Pizzeria, at 3424 East Colfax Avenue, was ticketed twice over a three-day period for employees and/or the owner working without a mask, and the Diamond Cabaret, at 1222 Glenarm Place, earned an August 14 citation for allowing customers closer than 25 feet from dancers and repeating general breaches for which the business had been slapped on August 5 — yet both businesses were allowed to keep operating.

"The public health significance and the effort in which the business is putting into compliance are factors that are taken into consideration when closing a business," Vigil explains. "Some businesses are required to be closed, per the public-health order, such as businesses primarily based on smoking, while others have flexibility, so long as they comply with certain parameters of the public health order."

A she points out, "Not every situation is the same, but our compliance monitoring protocol provides general guidance that is being followed by all investigators to ensure consistent enforcement throughout the city. ... If a business does not feel that something has been enforced equitably — we do ask that — we can make adjustments if needed, such as review of the enforcement taken."

In the meantime, Denver inspectors are on the lookout for compliance, or a lack thereof. Businesses beware.

This post has been updated to include reopening information about five of six businesses closed for alleged violations of COVID-19 public health orders.

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