COLORADO, USA — Colorado restaurants have reservations when it comes to imposing their own COVID-19 restrictions.
The Colorado Restaurant Association (CRA) surveyed 148 restaurants this past weekend, and 73% reported they had no plans to require guests to wear masks or show proof of vaccination.
“We wanted to get the pulse of the restaurant association membership across the state of Colorado and see what everybody was doing currently and what they were planning to do," explained Denise Mickelsen, communication director for the CRA.
Mickelsen said the survey came about after the CDC recently revised its mask guidance and places like New York City began requiring proof of vaccination for indoor dining at restaurants.
More than 50% of the responding restaurants are located in the Denver metro area, and the vast majority are independently-owned. More than half of the restaurants surveyed have no current rules when it comes to masks or vaccines.
About a dozen restaurants in the metro area have already decided to require their guests and employees to be vaccinated. The Bonanno Concepts restaurant group announced it will add a vaccine requirement on Sept. 30 for its nine Denver area restaurants.
"It just seems like it's the right thing to do," Frank Bonanno told 9NEWS. "We're trying to create a safe work environment for the people we work with."
The CRA survey showed 12% of respondents planned to roll out new mask and vaccine requirements soon. Of those restaurants, 77% said they worried about their staff members having to police customers unwilling to follow the rules.
“Nobody wants to go back to where we were when there was a mask mandate in place and you know, young servers and hosts and managers had to deal with guests who might not want to be asked to put on their mask," Mickelsen said.
Survey aside, Mickelsen said CRA members were tired of being the testing ground for new mandates.
“I don’t entirely think that it’s fair for restaurants to be kind of used in this in way - used as a stick," she said. "However, you know, anything that encourages public safety, restaurants are usually in favor of.”
Colorado restaurant owners just want to be ready for what comes next in the pandemic. Mickelsen said she hopes staff receive proper training if local governments bring back mask mandates or something else.
“We certainly hope there will be no capacity restrictions," she said. "We hope there will be certainly no shutdowns. So, we encourage everyone to get vaccinated if that is possible.”
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