“Outdoor” Dining Defined

Outside is the new inside; Boulder bars and restaurants get a break when it comes to enforcing the city's stay at home order.

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Is this considered outdoors? These days, who knows? / Serhii Vororshchuk © 123RF.com

What’s the difference between “inside” and “outside”? It’s so ridiculous, we can’t believe we’re even asking the question. But we’re in COVID country these days, so even the simplest things are enormously difficult. At least the Colorado Restaurant Association has sifted through the legalese for clarification about how many and what combo of walls, corners, and umbrellas constitute “indoors” and “outdoors.” Keep reading, and try not to let your brain explode from the sheer absurdity of it all (as well as the futility of trying to keep Boulder’s young people from leaving their homes, which is also addressed).

This information comes courtesy of the CRA’s newsletter; sign up for it here.

State Issues Guidance on Winter Indoor/Outdoor Dining

Over the last month, we have been working with the Governor’s office, state departments, and municipalities to get ready for winter. With outdoor dining options becoming less tenable in colder months and indoor capacities being severely limited, we know it is going to be a difficult couple of months for restaurants. 

This week, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released information about what will qualify as an indoor structure versus an outdoor structure. This is important information as the definition of indoor or outdoor will determine what capacity limits would apply to that structure. You can read the full document here. The factor used to determine indoor or outdoor classification was ventilation. Here is a summary of what is considered indoor and outdoor:

Outdoor Structure

  • Two non-adjacent walls that are open enough to provide air flow through the space
  • Two adjacent walls closed and two adjacent sides open without a roof
  • Ceiling, roofs, umbrellas, or canopies with no walls
  • Single-party structures that allow for ventilation between uses (e.g., igloos or bubbles)

Indoor Structure

  • Four walls and a ceiling
  • Three walls closed, one side open
  • Two adjacent walls closed and two adjacent sides open with a roof

We continue to advocate for expanding capacities indoors and for grant programs to cover the costs of necessary winter modifications.  

City of Boulder Issues Emergency 10 p.m. Last Call Order  

The City of Boulder has issued an emergency order mandating a last call at 10 p.m. This means that the sale of alcohol at bars, restaurants, and clubs is prohibited between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. The order went into effect on September 25 and will last through October 8 at noon, unless further amended or extended. 

“Alcohol can play a big part in social gatherings,” said City Manager Jane Brautigam. “We are hoping this order will help curb the current case increase we are seeing among younger members of the community. We understand that this order may be frustrating for bars and restaurants that sell alcohol, but the intent is to prevent the city from reverting to Safer at Home Level 3, which would place a further burden on local businesses.”

Update on Boulder’s Public Health Order for 18- to 22-Year-Olds

Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) issued a Public Health Order for individuals between the age of 18 and 22 within the City of Boulder, effective Thursday, September 24. This is in response to the recent outbreak of COVID-19 cases within the University of Colorado student population. The CRA has spoken to individuals within BCPH about the new public health order and received more clarification on the implementation of this order and the impacts on restaurants, including some information that is different from the update we previously sent to Boulder members. This order is still new and BCPH is in the process of working out all of the guidance for this public health order, but the following are answers to the questions we have been hearing from our members:

  • The order prohibits all gatherings between individuals 18 to 22 years old. It also implements Stay at Home Orders for residents of specific addresses within the city limits. Find the specific addresses here. Note that this is a change from what we understood previously.
  • All employees between the ages of 18 and 22 are allowed to report to work as usual, unless they are residents of the specific addresses outlined in the order. If they are a resident of one of those addresses, they must submit a form proving hardship in order to go to work. You can find the list of addresses here. If your employee lives at one of the specific addresses listed, they need to get permission to go to work. Note that this is a change from what we understood previously.
  • Businesses are not required to enforce the order. Restaurants do not need to check IDs at the door, and they do not need to refuse service to individuals between the ages of 18 and 22 who are dining out. That being said, businesses are encouraged to implement policies in compliance with this public health order to avoid the need to issue future mandates that could be directed at businesses.

What do you think about the the state’s definition of indoor dining, and how are you planning to weather the winter months? Talk to us! Email your experiences (and thoughts, opinions, and questions—anything, really) to askus@diningout.com

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