Although Mayor Michael Hancock just announced that "for the time being, we are hitting the pause button on our public health order variance requests to the state," that pause does not affect applications for the outdoor expansion of restaurants and bars in Denver.
The pause on variance requests was prompted by a recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Colorado. "This recent spike is extremely concerning, but we are in a place where if we stay focused, we can reverse this trend," Hancock said.
His announcement affects "variance requests for other openings, not applications from businesses for this program," says Eric Escudero, director of communications for the Department of Excise and Licenses.
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As of July 15, the city has received 303 completed applications for expansion of outdoor spaces — on sidewalks, in alleys, in parking lots, even on streets. Of those, 271 have been approved, Escudero notes, for an 89 percent approval rate.
Not only do such expansions give restaurants limited to 50 percent of their normal capacity (or fifty people, whichever is lower) more room to spread out for social distancing, but it also allows them to provide more seating for customers who feel more comfortable dining outdoors.
For a list of outdoor dining options in the metro area, see our new Denver Restaurant Directory.