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Polis: Eating at restaurants 'reasonably safe' under new guidelines

Colorado's restaurants will be able to reopen with limited indoor capacity on Wednesday, with the option to add more outdoor seating.

DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) said he considers eating at a restaurant to be “reasonably safe” and a “matter of survival” for the tens of thousands of Coloradans who rely on jobs in that industry.

These comments came during an hour-long news conference on Tuesday, the governor’s first since his office released the guidelines that will allow restaurants to reopen for dine-in service beginning on May 27.

“I want to acknowledge the pain that our restaurants have been through,” Polis said.

These businesses will be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity inside, with the option to expand outdoor seating into sidewalks, parking lots and other spaces with municipal approval.

Businesses like breweries and distilleries will be allowed to reopen as long as they serve food. Polis said the food itself isn’t what guides this model, but rather efforts to limit social interactions between different groups of people.

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The governor said some bars that rely on social interactions may choose not to reopen.

“The expectation socially is that you’re with your party, and it’s not an environment to be with other parties,” Polis said.

This is also the rationale Polis said guided the reopening of ski areas. The governor said the act of skiing itself is relatively safe, but the social nature of the sport is what piqued his concern.

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“It’s not the normal partying and post-skiing environment. If you’re in it for the actual skiing, this could be for you, if you’re in it for the partying and the keggy keggers, it won’t be,” Polis said.

This news conference came the same day the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) released its latest modeling, which showed that if Coloradans fail to maintain 65% social distance for the foreseeable future, coronavirus cases in the state could exceed intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacity.

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Health officials said Colorado is in for social distancing and a ban on large public events for the “long haul,” but Polis declined to confirm if this will be the case in August and September.

“We’re not going to lock ourselves into something based on projections,” the governor said, adding that he looks at multiple models – not just the one provided by the CDPHE.

“If you’re asking what July and August will look like,” the governor added, “they’re not going to look like normal.”

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