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Summit County first to approve some indoor dining under state's 5-star program

In less than 72 hours after being approved, County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said 134 restaurant applications were given the green light.

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. — In less than 72 hours, Summit County officials inspected and approved 134 restaurants for indoor dining after being the first county approved for the state's 5 Star Program.

RELATED: What customers should know before going to a '5-star' approved business

The program allows counties to approve restaurants to open for indoor dining at 25% capacity even if their county is in the Level Red COVID-19 restriction that only allows takeout and patio seating.

Summit County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said they got their program application in early because of holiday tourism. 

"So how could we remain sure that people were going to stay safe and healthy while also having restaurants open because we needed that capacity?" she said. 

Summit County recruited 60 people from town and county government to be a part of a team to ensure restaurants could follow the new guidelines under the program. 

Lawrence said less than 200 applied and 134 have been approved.

Some of the extra precautions restaurants have to take include recording customer's names and information for contact tracing, screening for COVID-19 symptoms and updating ventilation systems when needed.

"The ventilation is also one of the biggest parts of it," said Lawrence. "And also people are still waiting to maybe get parts in, get HVAC systems updates. As well as to prepare staff and get more food in as well." 

If a restaurant was initially denied, Lawrence said it can work to meet the program guidelines and an inspector will come back. 

RELATED: State health dept. releases checklist for program to help businesses reopen

On Friday, Gov. Jared Polis said Larimer County could move forward in the program as soon as Wednesday. 

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said the city will apply for the program but he couldn't say when. While Summit County has received less than 200 applications so far, Mayor Hancock said Denver could get 7,000. 

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