El Paso County Board of Health waives 2021 retail food establishment license fees

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A message adorns the windows of a Mexican restaurant reopened for in-house seating while a customer settles into a booth Friday, May 29, 2020, in Denver. Restaurants are slowly reopening to customers after restrictions put in place to cut the spread of the new coronavirus have been lifted this past Wednesday. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. – In an effort to provide economic relief to local restaurants impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the El Paso County Board of  Health voted unanimously on Wednesday to waive 2021 license fees for full-service retail food establishments (RFE), bars, and taverns in El Paso County.

The Board’s action was made possible by Senate Bill 20B-001, which was signed into law in December 2020 and aims to help alleviate the financial impacts of COVID-19 on the restaurant industry. With the passing of this bill, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment directed local counties to waive the license renewal fee for specific license types to include full-service restaurants (zero to 200+ seats), bars, and taverns. 

Local impact 

This bill provides financial assistance to 1,568 (57%) of the 2,733 RFEs in El Paso County, resulting in over $620,000 in waived fees. 

RFEs that were not included in this waiver include grocery stores, convenience stores, mobile units, and businesses with limited food preparation that are not bars or taverns. The state legislature had determined that these types of businesses were less likely to suffer critical negative impacts from the capacity and indoor dining restrictions imposed by state public health orders. 

Background and additional information  

  • Retail food licenses are renewed annually with fee amounts determined by their license category. 
    • License categories are established at the time of original licensing. 
    • Reduced seating capacity due to COVID-19 does not result in a license change. 

Timelines and next steps 

  • Establishments that have received fee waivers will receive a letter outlining this information along with their license by April. 
  • For establishments that have not received fee waivers and must pay their license renewal, the payment deadline has been extended to March 31, 2021, and these establishments have been sent notification letters. 
  • All 2020 licenses have been extended to cover the delay in license distribution.  

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