DENVER — Citing a worrisome spike in COVID-19 cases among young people, Gov. Jared Polis announced Tuesday that he is moving last call hours from 2 a.m. to 10 p.m. for the next 30 days.
The governor’s ban on alcohol sales past 10 p.m. at restaurants and bars that function as restaurants does not prevent those establishments from operating past 10 p.m. However, they can’t serve alcohol past that time.
Polis did not say whether retail sales of alcohol would be affected by this order. The new policy will be in effect starting 9 a.m. Thursday.
Stressing the temporary order is not an attack on nightlife, which he says is economically crucial in Colorado, Polis said the policy is needed to prevent large gatherings of young people and reduce the spread of the virus.
“The state of inebriation at a public place is inconsistent with social distancing,” Polis said. “Last call for alcohol will be 10 o’clock. People can stay out as long as they like, but if you do want to get inebriated, please do it at home with just a few other people and don’t let your judgment lapse.”
By nightfall, some bar owners, like Chris Fuselier, who owns the Blake Street Tavern in the Five Points neighborhood, said they would sue.
"....today we filed a Complaint re (regarding) capacity limits," Fuselier said in a tweet. "Tomorrow, we are filing an Amended Complaint + Motion for Temporary Restraining Order re (regarding) @GovofCo arbitrary Order re (regarding) 10 pm last call for drinks!"
The Blake Street Tavern is a member of the Tavern League, a group of more than 200 restaurant owners, Fuselier said.
During the press conference earlier Tuesday, Polis also shared data on bars that led to Tuesday’s decision. He said bar traffic saw an increase of 50% in June and in early July, people returned to bars and restaurants to almost pre-COVID-19 levels.
After announcing the new temporary last call restrictions, Polis said he was open to having the legislature change the state’s 2 a.m. last call rule during next year’s session, stating towns should not be hindered by the state, and if they so choose, allow bars to remain serving until 4 a.m. or 6 a.m.