Duo of (Scape)goat

As restrictions ramp up for restaurants, the feeling of being unfairly targeted is mounting.

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illustration of a businessman being at pointed by three giant fingers
Are restaurants being unfairly targeted by public health regulations? / rudall30 © 123RF.com

Restaurants and bars are bearing the brunt of Colorado’s increasingly strict public health orders designed to curb the spread of COVID. Operators are feeling singled out (while, ironically, they are in it together) and their frustrations increasingly take the form of Facebook and Instagram kerfuffles. Several online skirmishes have recently broken out as a result of posting this meme:

Picture of four-sided tent in a parking lot with text overlay reading, "I'm confused - we can't eat inside but we can eat inside as long as the inside is outside. Got it."
The meme that launched a thousand snarky comments.

In the interests of accuracy and common sense, we’ll note that anyone can make a meme. Said meme makers aren’t always concerned with the nuances of governmental regulations, and that’s the case here: This tent has four walls and seats multiple parties, so it’s considered indoor dining by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

But it is indicative of growing resentment over regulations that seems specifically designed to hamstring restaurants, which have always been community gathering spots—the kind of places the state of Colorado is currently asking people to avoid. On November 17, the same day that Governor Polis announced changes to the state COVID dial and indicated eateries in certain counties would have to close their dining rooms, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) issued a statement to the National Governor’s Association (NGA) touting restaurants’ high level of compliance with health standards and warning of dire economic consequences if further restrictions are placed on restaurants.

The letter pushed back against enacting restaurant restrictions absent specific contact-tracing data, vague or open-ended criteria for reopening, and short lead times that have plagued operators. It read in part:

“There is an unfounded impression that restaurants are part of the problem, and we are suffering as a result of inconsistent, restrictive mandates. Tens of thousands of additional restaurant bankruptcies—and millions of lost jobs—are now more likely, while the science remains inconclusive on whether any health benefits will accrue. While scientists know far more about the viral exposure risks from homes, workplaces, and commercial establishments over the past eight months, the response from many officials harkens back to the blunt-force approach taken in March.”

You can read the letter in its entirety here—and then weigh in with your opinion. How should Colorado be supporting independently owned restaurants, when so many of them have built their brands on being gathering places?

Talk to us! Email your experiences (and thoughts, opinions, and questions—anything, really) to askus@diningout.com

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