Southern Colorado restaurant owners react to guidance from the state

Coronavirus

PUEBLO, Colo. — Some new guidance for restaurants coming from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

These guidelines give restaurants state-wide the green light to open on Wednesday May 27.

Restaurants in El Paso, Teller, and Fremont counties have been granted exceptions and can already open to in-person dining; however, the rest of Colorado’s restaurants will be allowed to reopen for dine-in service with precautions.

THE STATE RELEASING THEIR GUIDANCE FOR INDOOR AND OUTDOOR ON-PREMISE DINING:

>>Tap here to read the full guidance.

O’Malley’s in Palmer Lake closed their kitchen in October after a fire. Now because El Paso County County was granted a variance, their doors are open.

“It’s been a rocky year for us since the fire anyway. We’ve had to adapt on the fly for that, so adapting to this wasn’t that much more for us,” said the owner of O’Malley’s, Jeff Hulsmann.

Some businesses like Romero’s Cafe & Catering in Pueblo, where no variance is granted, don’t want to bite off more than they can chew.

“I would have about four tables that would be able to open up, so for right now, until June 15, we are going to stick with catering and carry out,” Romero said. “I don’t think we need to rush into this thing too fast. We’re going to wait and see how it goes. Let everything calm down a little bit and let everyone see how they have to handle going out to eat versus what they are used to.”

THE STATE GUIDELINES ALSO ASKS FOOD ESTABLISHMENTS TO MINIMIZE ITEMS THAT ARE SHARED, AMONG OTHER RULES:

Both restaurants agree that following the guidelines adds an extra expense.

“There are a lot of people who aren’t going to survive after this. The margins in the restaurant business are very small as it is. When you start heaping costs on and tell people they can only use 50% of their dining room. It’s going to be a rough go,” Hulsman said.

If there is an outbreak among employees or customers, the restaurant must cooperate with the health department.

Guidance for reopening other kinds of establishments that do not serve food — like clubs — will come in June.

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