CRA: Happy New Year—Really!

Indoor dining reopens on January 4, plus free food and drinks for hospitality workers.

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Three Black men and women toasting cold drinks with pizza on table at restaurant.
On January 4, restaurants across Colorado can see this again. / ammentorp © 123RF.com

How many words can we use to describe 2020? This year has been the most wretched, execrable, horrendous, awful, nightmarish, terrible, awful, dreadful, hideous, atrocious, harrowing, grim, and ghastly year in memory for many of us.

While no one’s fortunes are changing at the stroke of midnight, there’s still some good news coming (barring an apocalyptic disaster between now and Monday—which this year has definitely conditioned us to be wary of). On January 4, all counties classified as Level Red will move to Level Orange. That means indoor dining at 25 percent of capacity can resume, and businesses that have been approved for the state’s 5 Star Certification Program can seat indoors at 50 percent capacity. (Ed. note: In a move that defies logic and reason, CDPHE stated after this info was released that 5 Star Certified restaurants in Level Red—soon to be Level Orange—counties will not be able to operate under Level Yellow guidelines. See below for a full update.*)

We also have an updated list of counties approved for the program (as well as confirmation that Denver county is in the process of preparing an application); an upcoming webinar on the second round of PPP funding that will be especially helpful if you didn’t receive a loan earlier this year; and a free New Year’s Day industry brunch for hospitality workers—because no one deserves a free drink more than you.

The following information comes from the CRA’s December 29 and 30 newsletters. Sign up to receive the full version here. And take a gander at its Coronavirus Resource Center and on our Covid-19 Reopening Resources for general info.

Governor Asks CDPHE to Move All Red Counties to Level Orange on Jan. 4, Reopening Indoor Dining

Late December 30, Governor Polis announced that he would ask the Colorado Department of Health and Environment to move all counties currently in Level Red to Level Orange effective January 4, 2021. He cited a steady decline in COVID cases over the past 13 days, and the fact that ICU bed use is at only 73% statewide.

This will allow restaurants in these counties to reopen indoors at 25 percent capacity* and extend on-premise last call time until 10 p.m., effective January 4. This includes the following counties: Adams, Alamosa, Arapahoe, Archuleta, Baca, Bent, Boulder, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Costilla, Crowley, Denver, Douglas, Elbert, El Paso, Garfield, Huerfano, Kiowa, La Plata, Larimer, Las Animas, Logan, Mesa, Morgan, Otero, Prowers, Pueblo, Routt, San Miguel, Summit, Washington, and Weld.

Restaurants certified under the 5 Star Program will be eligible to move up to the next capacity level per the program.

Please note that certain local public health agencies may choose to implement more restrictive policies. We will continue to closely monitor the situation as it develops and keep you updated.

Read the Governor’s full announcement here, and read the full Level Orange restrictions here.

*Update: 5 Star Certified Businesses

We have received clarification that restaurants that have been certified, and whose counties are moving from Level Red to Level Orange, will NOT move to LEVEL YELLOW.  THEY WILL REMAIN IN LEVEL ORANGE, AS THEIR COUNTY IS TECHNICALLY IN RED, BUT ACTING IN ORANGE. CDPHE is telling us that those restaurants will likely want to continue their other increased standards that have been created because if their county truly goes into a new, less restrictive, level after two weeks, those businesses will automatically move up a level. If a county goes down back into RED, these restaurants would stay in ORANGE.

We are getting clarification on allowed spacing between parties for those in Red, moving to Orange—whether it is 6 feet or 10 feet.  CDPHE does not yet have an answer for us but is working on it now.

This is a moving target—and all of this may change in a few hours—but AS SOON AS WE GET AN UPDATE, WE’LL LET YOU KNOW.

Please understand that we know this lack of information is frustrating. It is extremely frustrating for us, too, and we are receiving many phone calls and emails that we are not able to answer.  Unfortunately, state health officials also cannot yet answer these questions. More to come soon!

Restaurant Workers Not Included in Vaccine Phase 1B; Read Our Letter to the Governor

The State announced today that Colorado is moving into Phase 1B of its Vaccine Distribution Plan, which includes people over the age of 70 and many types of essential workers, including grocery store workers and employees in food and agriculture. This Phase does not explicitly include restaurant workers, however, who seem to be included instead in the next phase of vaccine distribution, likely kicking off this spring. We believe that separating restaurant employees from grocery store workers in the rollout timeline is extremely inappropriate as both are essential in providing food and beverage to Coloradans. We immediately sent a letter to the Governor imploring him to reconsider, and will continue to push on this issue. 

You can read our letter here

Routt County Begins Accepting Applications for 5 Star Program

Routt County has started accepting business applications for its 5 Star Program, but the Program has not yet been granted approval by the State. Once the County is approved by the state, then the eligible business will be automatically approved. You can read more and submit your application here.

Denver Confirms Pursuit of the 5 Star State Certification Program

Today, we received confirmation that the City and County of Denver is actively pursuing the State of Colorado’s 5 Star Certification Program. Denver’s application to the State of Colorado is currently under development and hopefully will be submitted by early next week, barring any major complications. In order to ensure timely approval for restaurants, the City is negotiating a partnership with Visit Denver to contract with H2 Solutions, a private certification company, to help administer the 5 Star Program in Denver and are having discussions around other partnerships to recruit volunteers to serve as inspectors for the program.

We will continue to update you on the status of Denver’s application. You can see updated information in the 5 Star County Guide on our website here.

Webinar, Friday, January 8: Next Round of PPP Funding – What You Need to Know

 Join the legal team from Messner Reeves as they review the next round of PPP funding – everything you need to know, including:

  • How to apply – application changes to watch out for
  • How to calculate monthly payroll to determine loan amount
  • How to determine the 300 total employee eligibility threshold – for independents and franchisees
  • The 60/40 rules for loan expenses, and expanded non-payroll uses like PPE, updates to enable social distancing, etc.
  • Employee Retention Tax Credit update
  • Next steps/considerations for PPP forgiveness

There will be time for Q&A. 

Friday, January 8  |  2 p.m.  |  Register here

5 Star State Certification Program County Guide

We are beginning to see restaurants reopen their indoor dining rooms at a limited capacity in counties with approved 5 Star State Certification Programs. Counties interested in implementing the 5 Star State Certification Program must submit a variance application for State approval. Once approved, the county can then launch its application for businesses. Interested businesses can apply for the program through their local county application system. Approved restaurants can then utilize the capacity guidelines and last call hours of the next, less restrictive dial level.

We will continue to provide an updated list of counties with approved 5 Star State Certification Programs and how to find details on the specifics of the program and application process in each county:

You can also access our 5 Star County Guide on our website here and read more about the 5 Star State Certification Program here.

Good Food Media Network Launches H.U.G.S. to Feed Industry Workers

Good Food Media Network is launching H.U.G.S. (Hospitality United in Good Service), a new project that aims to help hospitality workers. H.U.G.S. will debut as a pop-up collaboration with Colorado restaurants as part of Basta restaurant in Boulder’s 11th Annual New Year’s Day Industry Brunch. The menu will feature dishes from Diggity, Next Door American Eatery, Pizzeria Locale, and Safta. This pop-up is open and FREE to all Colorado restaurant workers. Reservations are required (for take-out only per current COVID-19 guidelines).

For more information, please follow @bastaboulder, @goodfood100list, and @eathugs on social media.

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

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