Summit County considers 11 pm restaurant curfew to align with Breckenridge

Customers sit at outdoor tables on Breckenridge’s Main Street on June 12. County leaders are considering an 11 p.m. restaurant curfew to keep people from lingering and potentially spreading the novel coronavirus.
Courtesy photo Elaine Collins

FRISCO — Following the lead of the town of Breckenridge, Summit County leaders are leaning toward implementing a 11 p.m. curfew on restaurants. 

At its meeting Thursday morning, the Breckenridge Town Council agreed to implement an 11 p.m. curfew on eating and drinking establishments. At the joint Board of Health and Board of County Commissioner meeting later in the day, county officials discussed setting a similar curfew for the entire county in an effort to prevent people from lingering at restaurants late into the night. 

While Colorado Gov. Jared Polis closed bars at the end of June, businesses and restaurants serving meals have been able to stay open to in-person dining. In popular places throughout the county like Breckenridge Main Street, people have started to linger at restaurants after they’ve finished their meals, officials say. 

“The idea of opening restaurants is really to allow for people to get out and about and to have some sense of normalcy, to be able to enjoy a meal and some drinks with some close family and possibly a group of friends,” Public Health Director Amy Wineland said. “Once that late night hits, what we’re tending to see is that mingling does happen and that people let their guard down a little bit as far as maintaining that social distancing and preventing the spread of illnesses.”

While most of the meeting’s attendees were in support of the curfew, the county didn’t make any final decisions Thursday. The official curfew will come in the form of an amendment to the current public health order, which Wineland likely will sign Tuesday. 

The board used Thursday’s meeting to discuss the potential ins and outs of the amendment. County Manager Scott Vargo said public health won’t move forward with an amendment until the official guidance from Breckenridge is available. The county plans to align with Breckenridge’s regulations to avoid confusion with varying curfews. 

Wineland said she’s in support of the curfew as the county, state and nation have seen an uptick in cases. 

“What happens after 10 or 11, we’re encouraging more mingling, and it really invites an atmosphere of trouble for increased spread of the disease,” she said.

Implementing a curfew is part of the county’s containment plan, which it has created in preparation for eventually applying for the protect-our-neighbors phase of reopening. 

“This is not something that’s completely foreign to us,” Vargo said. “It was something that we were thinking would be a sort of next step mitigation strategy as part of protect our neighbors when or if we saw some sort of surge in activity.” 

Most of the discussion Thursday revolved around how the curfew would apply to carryout and delivery services.

“My general leaning would be that we should allow carryout and delivery services,” Vargo said. “If people need food, it is an alternative for them to get food. The expectation is they’re taking it and going somewhere.” 

Wineland said the intention of the curfew would be to prevent restaurants from turning into a bar-like atmosphere. 

“We are facing two pandemics here,” she said. “One is the COVID and one is the economy. I think we need to allow (businesses) to be open as much as we can. I don’t think the carryout and delivery was the issue, necessarily.” 

All three commissioners were in support of the curfew. Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence pointed to Polis’ Thursday press conference, in which he said the economy is only as good as mitigation of the virus. 

“If the virus continues to spread, then that just continues to have more economic impact,” she said. 

At the conference, Polis pleaded to young Coloradans to continue physical distancing.

“This is the summer of no parties. This is not the summer of partying,” he said. “I know young people like to party. … That’s not what we’re focused on now; we’re focused on the public health side.”

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