DENVER — After more than a year of COVID-19 restrictions and safety protocols, businesses in six counties have the option to begin operating the way they did before the pandemic. Sunday, Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver and Jefferson counties all moved to Level Clear, meaning they can operate at 100% capacity and not require face coverings.
For some, the news was welcome and a sign the public is getting closer to putting the pandemic behind them. For one Denver business, it meant another round of last minute changes.
"It was good news to an extent," said Justin Long, a manager at Sports Column sports bar in downtown Denver. "We want people to go out, the industry was hurting for a very long time, but we just want to make sure everyone is safe."
Long said the management team decided to keep their mask requirement in place and will not accept parties with more than ten people. "Each establishment can still make that call themselves, but the customers are saying well hey, we can do whatever we want now and that’s what we’re trying to avoid," he said.
Long also wants to prioritize the safety and comfort level of his employees. "I didn’t wanna overwhelm them with a bunch of people coming into the restaurant, so that’s what I was nervous about it at first."
Aside from prioritizing safety, Sports Column has also been trying to manage staffing issues. After some of their employees went on unemployment earlier in the pandemic, Long said it's been a struggle getting people to come back to work.
"I think one time I called 17 people for interviews and no one showed up," he said. "We don’t have that number of people to be able to operate to make sure that every customer is okay, and that’s where we’re hurting."
Throughout the pandemic, Long said it felt like there were daily changes to the way bars and restaurants could operate. While many are ready to get back to life before the pandemic, some businesses will need time to get there.
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