Summit County officials approve 10 pm curfew for alcohol consumption at 5-star restaurants
Summit County officials will allow five-star certified restaurants to leave alcohol on tables until 10 p.m., but the 9:30 p.m. last call for the sale of alcohol remains in place.
At a Summit County Board of Health meeting Thursday, Jan. 21, commissioners decided to make the change to the 5 Star Business Certification Program. The change will go into effect Saturday, Jan. 23.
The board also decided to require that five-star restaurants collect contact information only from one person per household in a reservation. Previously, those restaurants were required to collect the information of every person on the reservation.
The changes apply only to restaurants that are five-star certified. Restaurants that are not in the program still will be held to a 9:30 p.m. last call on the consumption and sale of alcohol. The board hopes the changes will provide more incentive for businesses to remain in the program.
“There are folks who said they’ve spent thousands of dollars implementing the changes they needed to do to make the restaurant safer, and they’re really starting to feel like the challenges outweigh the benefit,” said Assistant County Manager Sarah Vaine, who sits on the county’s board for the program.
When Summit County first implemented the program, businesses were able to open with level orange restrictions while the county remained level red. Just a few days after the program went into place, Gov. Jared Polis moved all level red counties into level orange with one caveat: five-star certified businesses wouldn’t be able to operate under level yellow capacity restrictions until the county’s numbers fall within the level orange threshold for seven days.
Since then, the county’s two-week incidence rate — the number of new cases per 100,000 people — has started to slowly rise further into the level red threshold, making level orange numbers seem far away.
As of Thursday, the county was reporting an incidence rate of 819.8 cases per 100,000 people, according to the state’s dial dashboard. To be within level orange, it would need to report 350 or fewer new cases per 100,000.
While the change to rules will help restaurants, Public Health Director Amy Wineland did share some hesitancy about changing the alcohol consumption time to 10 p.m.
“One of the reasons why we restrict alcohol at the restaurants is we know they can turn into a bar scene,” she said. “Five-star businesses have put in extra mitigation strategies, but one of the biggest mitigation strategies that they’ll need to do is keep the restaurant from becoming a bar scene.”
However, all three commissioners shared their opinions that the change is important to help businesses.
“I would say, as a county, we’ve heavily invested capacity in the five-star program,” Commissioner Tamara Pogue said. “I’m concerned about not making this change. … I do believe from the conversations, from the behavior I’ve witnessed, that our restaurants do take this very seriously.”
Wineland said she would be willing to push back the time limit for alcohol consumption if the towns and county improved surveillance efforts to ensure that the restaurants don’t turn into a bar scene after 9:30 p.m.
By the end of Thursday’s meeting, County Manager Scott Vargo said he received confirmation from representatives of all four towns that they would be able to increase surveillance.
“This feels more important for me for those restaurants that are truly restaurants and not bars posing as restaurants,” Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said. “Certainly, I think that additional surveillance does make some sense with that.”
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.
Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.
Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.