CASTLE ROCK, Colo. — Bustling plates and morning chatter were gone from B&B Cafe in Castle Rock for more than a year. But on Friday, the restaurant was full of sounds, breakfast aromas, and people.
Colorado set April 16 as the day it would end its statewide coronavirus dial, sending control of capacity limits, mandatory closings, and social distancing guidelines to the counties. While many counties adopted similar regulations from the state dial, Douglas County did away with any local COVID-19 regulations at all.
"We have four new tables in the back. It's extremely crowded," said hostess Hannah Cassese. "It's awesome to finally be able to like feel like it's normal again."
There are still some regulations on restaurants set from the state level including certain capacities on mass gatherings (over 100 people) along with the statewide mask mandate that has been extended until May. Businesses are also advised to come up with their own sanitation and safety protocol to reduce exposure to COVID-19.
"We still have all of our sanitation practices in order, and our staff are diligent about making sure people are wearing masks," said Allison Todd, the general manager of the Great Divide Brewery and Roadhouse down the street. "It's a lot about just checking in with guests and making sure they're comfortable."
Tri-County Health that oversees Douglas, Arapahoe and Adams Countys put forward a plan with new regulations once the COVID dial expired. Though the regulations were less onerous than the state's, Douglas County still opted out.
"Considering that our case numbers continue to rise, and we haven't been able to vaccinate as thoroughly as we would like to, we did feel that it was important to continue some semblance of a dial," said Jennifer Ludwig, the deputy director of the Tri-County Health Department. "We are a bit concerned that things are opening up maybe too quickly. And especially at the time when we are seeing cases increase."
Adams and Arapahoe counties have adopted Tri-County's regulations that are set to expire in one month. Health officials say other counties could soon look similar to Douglas County once enough people are vaccinated.
"It's a fine balance. And it's been hard to find a really good balance throughout the entire pandemic," said Ludwig.