CRA: Straws, Seating Limits, and Straight-Up Chicanery

Curated news from the CRA.

Arial view of Colorado Springs, Colorado skyline with mountains behind it.
Restaurants in Colorado Springs and the rest of El Paso County are now limited to 50 percent capacity. / Sean Pavone ©

The CRA weighs in on whether you can still serve to-go booze in containers with straw holes (sort of); what El Paso and Jefferson county changes mean for bars and restaurants; and whether Pueblo businesses are required to boot their guests in the middle of dessert (no, thank god). Plus, Aurora and Commerce City businesses need to pay attention to a pair of meetings happening tonight; the Aurora meeting addresses a previously tabled minimum wage hike and promises to be contentious.

The following information comes from the CRA’s Friday, October 30 newsletter. Sign up to receive the full version here.

Glass transparent mason jar with orange juice or cocktail with a straw, viewed from the side against green wall background with copy space.
Can you send this boozy baby into the world in this container? Maybe. / elfgradost ©

To-Go Alcohol Container Clarification

We included in a previous newsletter information about new regulations for takeout and delivery alcohol containers from a restaurant that took effect November 1, 2020. You can view that information here. Today, we spoke with the Liquor Enforcement Division (LED) after receiving many questions from restaurants about lids with straw holes. According to LED, a lid with a straw or sipping hole can be used for a takeout or delivery container only when the straw or sipping hole is covered with a “tamper evident” seal or sticker. Masking tape, scotch tape, or a sticker/any other tape that is not designed to be “tamper evident” is not an acceptable covering for a straw or sipping hole.

El Paso County Moves to Safer at Home Level 2

In response to recent increases in COVID-19 case rates, test positivity, and hospitalizations, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) notified El Paso County this morning that El Paso County is being required to move to Safer at Home Level 2: Concern in the state’s dial framework.

CDPHE has given El Paso County until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, November 4 to fully implement these changes. El Paso County submitted an updated mitigation plan to CDPHE last week, and is working diligently to implement additional mitigation strategies with partners to reverse the concerning trends. Key takeaways from the mitigation plan include: 

  • Working with the Economic Development Regional Recovery Council, schools, and broader community partners and sectors 
  • Working with the Pikes Peak Chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association on a COVID-19 safety certification initiative which will provide an opportunity for restaurants and bars to be evaluated on standard COVID-19 safety criteria and receive acknowledgement 
  • Increased low-barrier testing sites throughout El Paso County. For a full list of sites, click here.

The move to Safer at Home Level 2 implements the following guidelines and restrictions related to restaurants: 

  • Restaurants: 50 percent capacity or up to 50 people per room (or up to 100 with social distance calculator for large venues), six feet between outdoor parties.
  • Bars: Closed, unless food is served from a retail food licensee with tables spaced at least six feet apart and set seating for on-premise consumption. 50 percent capacity or up to 50 people per room (or up to 100 with social distance calculator for large venues). Dance floors are not permitted. Bars that operate must follow all the requirements listed in Appendix H of Public Health Order 20-35. Click here for Public Health Order 20-35.
  • Last call for takeout and in-person alcohol purchases is now 11 p.m. Delivery alcohol service can continue until 2 a.m.

See all Level 2 requirements on the State Dial Dashboard, located here.

Jefferson County Issues Mitigation Plan: What This Means for Restaurants

Due to increased spread within its jurisdiction, Jefferson County Public Health issued its mitigation plan, effective immediately until midnight on November 29, 2020. The plan could be extended past that date. 

Here’s what restaurants need to know:

  • All indoor events in Jefferson County are limited to 25 people within their usable space, calculated using the social distance calculator, excluding staff. Outdoor events are limited to 75 people using the social distance calculator, excluding staff. If the event is a seated event, the organizer is not required to use the calculator (which requires more than six feet of distance between people) as long as six feet of distance between non-household members can be maintained throughout the event. 
  • Normal restaurant operations are still at the Safer at Home Level 2 capacities of 50 percent of occupancy or 50 people per room, whichever is less. However, any “event” held in a restaurant would fall under the event guidance. Events are defined as activities like receptions, concerts, indoor markets, indoor malls, non-critical auctions, theaters, trade shows, or other indoor venues.
  • If a restaurant has two rooms, they are able to hold a private event in one of the rooms following the event guidance, and have normal restaurant operations in the other room as long as there is no mingling between the event guests and diners in the restaurant. 
  • There is a new 10 p.m. last call time. All on-premise licensees much cease alcohol beverage sales to consumers for on-premise consumption and for takeout between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. each day. Restaurants who deliver alcohol are still allowed to deliver alcohol until 2 a.m. This change is effective immediately.

You can read the full mitigation plan here.

Black man and woman in a restaurant eating dinner and toasting with glasses of red wine.
Pueblo restaurants don’t have to kick this lovely couple to the curb at 9:59 p.m. / Vadim Guzhva ©

Clarification on Pueblo Curfew for Delivery and Dine-in Guests

On October 29, Pueblo Mayor Nicholas Gradisar announced an emergency curfew for the City of Pueblo. The curfew will be in effect nightly from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., effective October 30 at 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. on November 13. During the hours of the curfew, all persons are prohibited from using, standing, sitting, traveling, or being present on any public street or in any public space, including for the purpose of travel. Employees traveling to and from work in a restaurant are exempt.

Today Mayor Gradisar informed us that delivery from a restaurant to a consumer will be allowed, as food delivery is considered an essential service. Customers in a restaurant will be allowed to finish their meals and travel home if they are still dining at 10 p.m. Restaurants should use discretion here. If a customer comes in at 9:59 p.m. and wants a table, you shouldn’t seat them. However, if you have a customer who is in the middle of their meal at 10 p.m., you are not required to force them to leave. Also, it is not recommended to allow customers to continue to order after 10 p.m. 

Upcoming Local Meetings That Are Relevant to Restaurants

Aurora and Commerce City Councils will both be discussing issues this week that are relevant to restaurants. In addition to a minimum wage hike, Aurora is considering a delivery fee cap. Commerce City is also considering a delivery fee cap. Find details on how to join here.

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