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Karen Starr, veteran and owner of Karen's Kafe and Stephanie's Bar and Grill in Calhan, Colo., opened her two restaurants to socially distance dine-in services on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. Despite Colorado Gov. Jared Polis' order for restaurants to remain closed to dine-in service until further notice, Starr says her decision to open the restaurants is to defend constitutional rights and their businesses' solvency. (Chancey Bush/ The Gazette)

Gov. Jared Polis issued draft restaurant reopening guidelines on Tuesday that, although still a work in progress while the state gathers stakeholder feedback, provide insight into what the new normal may look like when eating out.

Both indoor and outdoor dine-in service would be allowed with limited capacity — how many people exactly is still being decided “based on the science” — as long as a minimum of 8 feet is maintained between tables.

Parties would need to be limited to six people or less, and all dining spaces, both inside and out, would need to stop service by 10 p.m.

Bars would remain closed.

Since stay-at-home orders were first put in place two months ago to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, the restaurant industry has been badly wounded, losing an estimated $975 million in April, according to a recent survey by the Colorado Restaurant Association.

Nearly a quarter of restaurant owners said they anticipate permanently closing their doors by the end of May, the survey found.

The state’s draft guidelines encourage a sign-in option for customers, so that they could be notified if an exposure occurs at the restaurant. The state also is advising the use of a reservation system to aid in contact tracing if needed.

Face masks and gloves would be required for all employees when interacting with customers and handling food. All employees also would be required to have their temperature checked daily, and to stay home when showing any symptoms of COVID-19.

The draft guidelines advise that restaurant staff request face coverings be worn by customers when not eating or drinking, such as when walking past other tables. The state is also encouraging restaurants to refuse service to customers who aren’t willing to comply.

If there is a confirmed case among customers or employees, restaurant management would be required to notify and work with their local public health agency on next steps.

No communal seating would be allowed, nor would self-service stations or buffets. There would no longer be bar seating, games, dance floors, standing room, or any other shared items, such as tablecloths.

Restaurants also would be encouraged to provide contactless payment options, as well as use disposable, single-use menus, menu boards or online menus that can be accessed by customers on a mobile device. Hand sanitizer should also be provided at the host desk and throughout the venue.

A reopening date still hasn’t been specified, although the governor has said his goal is to reopen Colorado restaurants by Memorial Day, May 25.

Read the state's draft guidelines here: 

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