COVID-19: Boulder Restaurants Ready for Weekend Rollout

Downtown Boulder may look more like its “old self” this weekend – busy with diners headed to restaurants after a three-month absence due to COVID-19. KGNU’s Roz Brown says at last night’s meeting, Boulder City Council heard guidelines that allow some restaurants to reopen as early as today.

Listen to the report below: 

It won’t be exactly the same, because the risks of eating out during COVID-19 remain, but restaurants will be allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity, or a maximum of 50 people, whichever is fewer. Following an announcement from Governor Jared Polis on Monday, Boulder issued an emergency order yesterday to get the ball rolling. Assistant City Manager Yvette Bowden explained the process to councilmembers.

“The city has waived administration fees, as you suggested,” said Bowden. “It has also waived the minimum parking requirement for retailers across the city.”

Bowden says the new rules allow temporary outdoor seating areas on public and private property. That means Pearl Street between 9th and 11th, plus part of an adjacent alley on 10th Street north of Pearl will be closed to traffic as will the street used for events on University Hill.

“One-half block west on Pennsylvania from 13th – to the alleyway between 12th and 13th – this is infrastructure that was built for this type of flexible retrofitting so we’ll also move ahead with that,” said Bowden.

The city hosted a webinar about the process Tuesday, now posted at the city’s website for businesses that missed it.  It includes a streamlined process for the city to review applications from restaurants that want to participate with the goal of a three-day turnaround. According to Bill Cowern with the city’s transportation department that means some restaurants could be up and running by the weekend.

Screen shot from the Boulder City Council Special Meeting 5-26-20

“We’re going to purchase the barricades that allow us to close these streets, and they will arrive on Friday and we’ll have both streets shutdown in time for Friday evening,” said Cowern.

Restaurant parties will be required to sit six-feet away from each other. Also, mingling among parties will be discouraged and employees will wear face coverings at all times, while customers will be encouraged to wear them when not eating or drinking.

The city may need to tweak the process for allowing restaurants to welcome customers back – and this will continue only through September – as weather will be factor. Remember – take out food is still an option, because the decision to eat inside a re-opened restaurant should be weighed against your health risk.