EatDenver: Double Down, Denver

Restaurants are being buffeted by forces beyond their control.

A man wearing a face mask is applying hand sanitizer.
Mask up, wash hands, disinfect, repeat. / Satjawat Boontanataweepol ©

The city of Denver—and for that matter, all of Colorado—keeps issuing dramatic pronouncements about the dire state of affairs without actually pulling the trigger on more stringent restrictions. While COVID caution fatigue is real (and more common than COVID itself) and understandable, that doesn’t mean we should all act like toddlers in the face of ineffective parenting. EatDenver has provided details about where Denver stands, as well as a plea to owners and managers to increase communication with staff around public health orders to keep the city from sliding backwards.

The following information comes from EatDenver’s Wednesday, October 21 newsletter.

As we’re all following, there are three metrics that Denver and Colorado are looking at very closely to determine where each county falls on the state COVID-19 dial (which determines our county’s set of guidelines): new cases (14-day cumulative incidents), percent positivity (14-day average), and impact on hospitalizations. 

Since the state dial was launched, Denver (as well as Boulder, Adams, Broomfield, and Jefferson Counties) has been at Safer at Home Level 2. But Denver’s case numbers (as well as the state’s overall case numbers) are now at an all-time high. As of October 20, Denver’s metrics are currently: 

  • 288.9 two-week average cases per 100,000 (Level 2 is 75-175)
  • 5.5 percent two-week average positivity (Level 2 is 10 percent positivity rate or less)
  • 10 days of declining or stable hospitalizations (Level 2 is no more than 2 new COVID-19 admissions per day) 

As I emailed last week, the additional public health orders that Mayor Hancock issued on Friday do not directly affect restaurants (or any other industry that already has a specific set of COVID-19 regulations). 

But we are dangerously close to sliding back to a more restrictive level on the dial, to Level 3, which would mean 25 percent capacity (or a 50 patron cap, whichever is less) and a 10 p.m. last call for alcohol. If we as a county move to that level on the dial, we would be there for a minimum of two weeks, and if our numbers did not significantly improve, we would likely remain in Level 3 for a longer period of time. 

None of us want to see what happens to our community of restaurants in the case that we move to Level 3, or for that matter, even further restricted in the Stay at Home level.

DDPHE reports that the majority of restaurants have been excellent in compliance. Danica Lee, director of DDPHE, said, “All of this industry’s great efforts around compliance are greatly appreciated and help us make the case to focus on other settings,” related to the new public health orders. Unfortunately, there are many other factors outside of your compliance that can affect the regulations on this industry (and others). 

One major ask to all of you: 

Please double down on your communications to your employees, encouraging them to follow the current public health orders: mask wearing, social distancing, and limiting social gatherings to five or fewer people. Underscore the severity of the situation we are in. Remind them that it’s not only their lives (and the health of those around them and their families) but their livelihoods that depend on their following of these laws. 

As Mayor Hancock said last week, “The reality is, your favorite local restaurant’s ability to survive this pandemic depends on your ability to wear your mask and social distancing.” 

I am so sorry that factors outside of our control are affecting this industry so deeply, an industry full of people like you working unbelievably hard to keep others safe and serve our community. 

Let’s do whatever we can to turn this around. 

Talk to DiningOut! Email your experiences (and thoughts, opinions, and questions—anything, really) to


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