PARKER, Colo. — After all the ups and downs the pandemic has brought for restaurants, many businesses in Douglas County agree with the commissioner’s decision to open back up without restrictions.
"It will allow me once again to hire more people, to service the customers and it will also give people opportunities to get inside," said owner of West Main Taproom and Grill, Pamela Briere.
Briere only got to see her new restaurant, West Main Taproom and Grill, offer full capacity for about six weeks before the shutdown last year. Since then, she says its been a struggle to stay afloat.
Which makes this Friday even more important when she is able to open up at full capacity.
"Its not greed about (sic) opening up all our tables, it's just surviving. If someone doesn’t feel comfortable with going inside and dining in, he or she will have the option to eat outside on our patio and enjoy a lunch or a dinner out there," said Briere.
But Tri-County Health Department officials worry about an increase in cases and rise in hospitalizations.
"The pandemic is unequivocally not over. We want to hold on to the progress that we have made to get more people vaccinated and that is what the race is all about and that’s why at least in Tri-County, we thought that extra month of a slight extension of the dial would be useful," said executive director of Tri-County Health, Dr. John Douglas.
Casa Mariachi in Parker agrees and come Friday, they’ll stick to the same capacity restrictions they’re following now.
"Keep the restrictions a little bit, keep the distance between tables so that everybody can feel comfortable coming in. We actually want to look forward to that Friday but more than anything we want to keep doing what we are doing right now just to keep everybody safe and especially our community and our staff," said manager of Casa Mariachi, Saul Santana.
In a statement, the Colorado Restaurant Association says they're optimistic about the community continuing to get vaccinated, but added restaurants cannot fully recover until they're able to open without capacity restrictions.
"That said, the health and safety of the industry’s workers and customers has been front of mind since the onset of the pandemic, and we trust that local public health officials will work to ensure the safety of the industry and its customers as they reevaluate local public health orders in the coming days.
Douglas County’s Board of County Commissioners voting to opt out of further Tri-County public health orders as of Friday, April 16 presents both positive and challenging outcomes for local businesses. Restaurants in Douglas County will surely realize the benefits of reopening their businesses at full capacity without social distancing, and many will be able to begin the process of economic recovery following 13 months of operational restrictions.
Unfortunately, an unintended consequence will be the creation of a competitive advantage for restaurants located in counties with fewer restrictions and the potential loss of business for restaurants in surrounding counties with stricter safety guidelines. We also have concerns about the confusion that a patchwork of local public health orders will create both for the industry and diners.
We encourage local public health agencies to work to clearly communicate these changes so that the industry and its workers are not responsible for educating their customers about the specifics of this rapidly changing regulatory landscape.”
As other counties finalize their plans on how to move forward come Friday, in Douglas County, businesses can operate how they see fit.