Summit County officials simplify last call, prepare for spring breakers
With the 5 Star State Certification Program allowing Summit County businesses to move into level blue restrictions, local officials have spring break on the mind.
On Tuesday, March 2, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced that the state has vaccinated 70.7% of the total population of people 70 and older. Previously, the governor said that five-star businesses in level yellow counties wouldn’t be able to operate under level blue restrictions until the state met that metric.
Because Summit County also has met level yellow metrics for seven days, local five-star businesses are now allowed to operate in level blue. The change means restaurants, gyms and fitness centers that are certified can operate under 50% capacity or 175 people indoors, whichever is less.
Personal services are still held to 50% capacity or 50 people indoors under level blue. With greater capacity for restaurants, local officials are maintaining a stricter alcohol last call time than the state permits in levels yellow and blue to help mitigate potential spread of the virus.
At a Board of Health meeting Tuesday, Summit County Commissioners Elisabeth Lawrence and Josh Blanchard decided to implement a last call on the sale and consumption of alcohol at 10:30 p.m. for five-star certified restaurants and at 10 p.m. for restaurants that are not in the program. Commissioner Tamara Pogue was unable to attend the meeting.
The slight change goes into effect Thursday, March 4, according to the county’s five-star website. The current last call at five-star restaurants is 10 p.m. for the sale of alcohol and 10:30 p.m. for consumption. Restaurants that are not in the program will see no changes, and last call on the sale and consumption will remain at 10 p.m.
If the county were to follow the state’s guidance on the issue, five-star restaurants would have a midnight last call and non-certified restaurants would be held to an 11 p.m. last call.
The county’s major concern about moving to the state’s restrictions has to do with increased visitors throughout the month of March because of spring break.
Assistant County Manager Sarah Vaine said many restaurant owners on the county’s five-star committee felt that they would welcome an earlier last call as they don’t want to have to monitor behavior closely.
“In terms of extending it beyond 11, at least the group that is part of our five-star committee was not terribly in favor of that,” she said. “They want their employees to get home. They feel like, for the most part, after 11 it’s going to turn into a sitting and socializing situation.”
Vaine added that the two restrictions that continue to hinder restaurant owners are the 6-foot mandatory distance between tables and the requirement that five-star businesses verify that a party is not made up of more than two households. However, both of those rules are implemented by the state and not the county.
Vaine also said that while the five-star committee was OK with the earlier last call, others expressed concerns about the stricter rules.
“There were some other folks, like from the chamber and the towns, that felt pretty strongly that it wasn’t necessarily fair or appropriate that we have rules that are stricter than the state at this point,” Vaine said. “They would prefer that, ’If it’s good enough for the rest of the state, it’s good enough for Summit County.’”
Ultimately, the commissioners decided to keep the change for another week and revisit the issue at a later meeting. The commissioners want to monitor the data now that Summit School District students are back from winter break and prepare for what March might bring.
“We need to be careful. We need to be cautious,” Blanchard said. “So many of our public protocols as it surrounds public health have been about balance … to try to keep as many folks safe and symptom-free and yet at the same time keep our businesses open.”
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