On May 25, Governor Jared Polis shared the information that restaurant owners and food fans have been waiting for since Colorado's eateries were closed on March 17: They can reopen to on-premises dining on Wednesday, May 27.
There are limitations, of course: Restaurants will be limited to 50 percent of their capacity, no party can be larger than eight, and tables must be at at least six feet apart. Outdoor dining is encouraged (more than 300 eateries have already applied for variances in Denver, which would allow them to further expand onto sidewalks, parking lots and even into alleys).
And to-go as well as delivery will be allowed, along with the alcohol offerings made possible by loosened liquor laws during the closure. But bars that do not serve food must remain closed; a decision on that reopening schedule is expected in early June. (Craft breweries and bars with on-site food trucks could be an exception, according to the governor's office....but not to the 50 percent capacity and six feet rules.)
All employees must wear masks, but gloves are not required; that had been a concern when the draft guidelines were released. Restaurants can also be open past 10 p.m., which had been another point of contention after Polis released his proposed rules last week. Restaurateurs had through May 22 to respond, and some of their suggestions were incorporated in the final guidelines.
The City and County of Denver has aligned with the state's date and guidelines for restaurants reopening. "The city may make additional adjustments in the coming days," according to Denver's Facebook page, "and face coverings will be required for restaurant employees and customers, except while eating and drinking. We are looking forward to safely welcoming back sit-down service at Denver restaurants, and are working quickly to process the 375 applications we have received the past few days to expand outdoor patio seating. We strongly encourage vulnerable populations to continue to abide by more stringent safer-at-home guidelines."
Here are those state guidelines:
Update: This story was updated at 3:20 p.m. May 25 to include Denver's alignment with the state date and guidelines.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.