After an initial scare that left breweries located within Denver city limits believing that they would have to end to-go sales at 5 p.m. today, March 24, as a result of Mayor Michael Hancock's shelter-in-place order, the city has confirmed that these breweries will be allowed to stay open — for now — for to-go sales and delivery.
"Breweries may be able to sell for off-site consumption, if they have an 'approved for sales room,' which is a permit from the state," says Theresa Marchetta, the city's Director of Strategic Communications and Media Policy in an email to Westword. "If the brewery does not have this permit, it cannot sell for off-premise use."
Attorney Robert Runco, who represents the Colorado Brewers Guild, says that every brewery with a taproom would qualify, since the "approved for sales room" permit is the state-issued permit that manufacturing breweries are required to have in order to operate a taproom in the first place.
Brewpubs, which serve food in addition to making their beer, will also be allowed to continue to-go service and delivery, just as restaurants can. There's no dining (or drinking) allowed inside any eating establishment, though; that ended March 17, and the ban continues through at least April 30 across the state.
On Monday, Hancock issued his stay-at-home order following reports that people were continuing to gather in groups despite the battle against coronavirus. He initially included liquor stores and recreational marijuana stores as non-essential, but backtracked within the hour, saying those stores could remain open as long as they enforced proper distancing. (Thanks to a March 22 order from Governor Jared Polis, though, all rec stores in the state can only offer delivery and curbside cannabis sales as of today.)
Breweries believed that they were included in the order, and began posting messages on social media announcing that they would have to close until April 10. If that interpretation had been accurate, it would have doubled the hardship on breweries, which were already hanging on by a thread after being limited by the state to takeout and delivery. Takeout and delivery at least allows them to keep the lights on and pay a few employees.
Update: This story has been updated to reflect the fact that Denver breweries will be allowed to stay open for to-go and delivery sales.
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