Gov. Jared Polis said he expects restaurants across Colorado will be able to reopen to in-person dining with restrictions in about two weeks.
In a Zoom meeting with journalists and small-business owners to discuss issues businesses are struggling with under state restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19, Polis said guidelines for in-person dining will be released about one week before the in-person dining is allowed.
“We don’t have enough data to set a date today,” Polis said. He added that he expects the date for in-person dining to be set in 10 to 12 days. “We hope to make the decision soon.”
Some counties, he said, have been given special permission to begin in-person dining with reduced capacity restrictions, including Mesa County, where restaurants in Grand Junction are allowing in-person dining at 25% of capacity.
Tim Walsworth, executive director of the Durango Business Improvement District, said local officials are pushing Polis for a plan to reopen restaurants.
After the Red Snapper announced it would be closing after 35 years in operation in downtown Durango, Walsworth said, “We’re asking, what is the current thinking because that will allow restaurants to plan instead of being stuck in limbo land.”
With COVID-19 restrictions expected to gradually ease in the coming month, Polis said businesses should be prepared to cooperate with local public health officials to conduct contact tracing if an employee tests positive for the novel coronavirus.
“We’ll want to know who sits next to the person, how to get in touch with employees,” he said.
If an employee does test positive, Polis said it is likely people working on that person’s shift would need to be tested or possibly tests would need to be given to everyone employed at the business.
Polis also recommended workplaces and businesses encourage the wearing of masks.
“It’s important for businesses to be proactive,” he said. “I think wearing a mask is a very good policy. It’s good for employee morale and for customer morale. Customers are likely to turn away if they see people not wearing masks,” he said.
A slow tourism season should be expected, he said.
“Airlines have cut back. I expect some tourists, but not nearly the numbers we have had,” he said.
Businesses are likely to be open under some COVID-19 restrictions this summer, but Polis cautioned the number of tourists will be “a tiny fraction of what we normally see.”