COVID-19: Restaurant Gives the Finger to On-Site Closure Order

A screen capture from a May 10 Mother's Day video C&C Coffee and Kitchen owner April Arellano shared with CBS4.
A screen capture from a May 10 Mother's Day video C&C Coffee and Kitchen owner April Arellano shared with CBS4. CBS4
On Mother's Day, as the slow roll-out of Governor Jared Polis's Safer at Home program continued, defiance bloomed in a Castle Rock coffee shop, whose owner essentially gave the finger to a public-health order forbidding on-site dining, as well as regulations calling for social distancing, mask use and more.

C&C Coffee and Kitchen, at 4284 Trail Boss Drive in Castle Rock, served a packed house of consumers hungry for food and "freedom," seemingly without concern for the risk to themselves and others from the novel coronavirus.

The dangers are evident in information about COVID-19 shared by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Here's the latest CDPHE data, updated at 4 p.m. on the May 10:
19,703 cases
3,631 hospitalized
60 counties
104,077 tested
971 deaths
190 outbreaks
According to the CDPHE, there are now only four Colorado counties that have not reported a COVID-19 case: Dolores, Jackson, Kiowa and Sedgwick.

The toll from the virus continues to climb in Denver as well. The city's COVID-19 summary page calculates 4,010 cases and 197 deaths.

In an open letter to Coloradans released in the wake of his May 8 press conference, Polis emphasized familiar themes, noting, "As we continue to limit our social interactions and keep our distance at least six feet from others, I want to remind everyone about the importance of wearing masks and facial coverings."

He added that "the Safer at Home phase has four main components for success. For most of the population, continue to stay at home whenever you can. For seniors & those with chronic health conditions, it means staying at home unless absolutely necessary. Stepping up testing, containment, and tracing, which we’re doing at the state level. Wearing masks at all times when in public. The better job we do at these things, the more we can loosen restrictions on our economy and our society, and the faster we can do it."

Earlier on May 8, Polis expressed his hope that restaurants might be able to open for on-site dining by Memorial Day, but said no decision could be made prior to statistical analyses drawn from the early days of Safer at Home, launched on April 27; these studies would probably get under way on May 22 or 23, he predicted.

April Arellano, owner of C&C Coffee and Kitchen, was clearly unwilling to wait that long, as underscored in a video tweeted by Colorado Community Media:

The day before, on May 9, C&C Coffee and Kitchen had tweeted: "[email protected]? We are standing for America, small businesses, the Constitution and against the overreach of our governor in Colorado!!" The message included a link to a now-deleted Facebook post. But Colorado Community Media reports that C&C shared the phrase "No mask no problem btw," and another Twitter user delivered a now-removed photo that read: "Attention! Our freedom doesn't end where your fear begins. If you are scared, stay at home! If you are afraid to be within 6 ft. of another person, do not enter this business! God bless America. Land of the 'free' and home of the brave."

Against this backdrop, the Polis administration is trying to maintain some semblance of control over its COVID-19 policies. On the evening of May 8, Polis signed an executive order "extending the temporary suspension of certain statutes to provide an extension for filing and remitting state severance tax until May 15, 2020." That was followed on May 10 by another order "temporarily suspending certain regulatory statutes related to the Colorado Department of Human Services, including Division of Youth Services centers, and public and private behavioral health facilities, to enable CDHS to respond to the pandemic and undertake efforts to prevent or contain the spread of COVID-19 in CDHS facilities."

Meanwhile, on May 9, the Colorado Secretary of State's Office enacted emergency rules for conducting elections in the state; they're effective immediately and will be applied to the primary slated for June 30.

The rules "state that counties must follow guidelines from the Colorado Department of Health, the Governor’s Office, and local health officials. The rules outline the procedure for receiving and processing ballots, social distancing, and Personal Protective Equipment. Voting equipment and voting booths are to be cleaned after each use and social distancing guidelines will be enforced."

Also this weekend, the Colorado Legislature pushed back the proposed start date for the suspended session; it's now slated to return on May 26.

In the meantime, Polis is planning to travel to Washington, D.C., this week, to meet with President Donald Trump. At the top of his agenda are requests for the federal government to provide the state with additional supplies needed in the ongoing battle against COVID-19.

He's got fights on many other fronts, as well.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts