U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton's Republican primary challenger Lauren Boebert isn't waiting for permission from the government to reopen her restaurant in Rifle.
Sounding a defiant note, Boebert said Tuesday she decided to welcome customers back to Shooters Grill in Garfield County despite public health orders imposed to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
"I think that what we were doing is not only safe but justified," Boebert said in a video posted to social media, adding, "Everyone is rolling over and saying, 'Why don’t you just fall in line?' I’m not falling in line."
She noted that the rural county on Colorado's Western Slope has counted just over 100 coronavirus cases and seen only two deaths related to the pandemic.
"No death is a good death, but it also is a part of life," Boebert said. "We don’t close down our interstate when someone gets in a car accident and loses their life."
Boebert was among business owners urging Garfield County commissioners on Monday to seek a waiver from statewide restrictions on business activity, like one granted to neighboring Mesa County, which has allowed restaurants to reopen at 30% capacity.
Officials on Monday ordered a Castle Rock restaurant shut down and suspended its business license indefinitely after C&C Breakfast and Korean Kitchen opened its doors on Sunday.
Gov. Jared Polis said the Douglas County restaurant was "causing an immediate health hazard" after a local newspaper posted video of the crowded eatery, with customers packed together and only one wearing a face mask.
Under Polis' latest order, Colorado restaurants can provide take-out and delivery service but can't offer sit-down service, unless they are located in jurisdictions that have received a variance.
The governor said last week that he would like to see restaurants reopen statewide by late May, possibly before Memorial Day, depending what data shows about the effectiveness of the state's recent "safer-at-home" order aimed at gradually lifting restrictions on public gatherings.
A spokeswoman for Garfield County Public Health told Colorado Politics Tuesday that the matter involving Shooters Grill is "in process," but didn't elaborate.
Boebert said she is serving dine-in customers at 30% capacity at her restaurant, famous for its pistol-packing waitresses, insisting it's as safe as other situations allowed under current public health rules.
"If I can sit in a salon chair for an hour and a half, then my customers should be able to come to my restaurant and sit at a table and have a 20-minute meal," she said. "If I can go to the big box stores and be crowded in line for an hour just to get in and an hour just to check out, I believe people can come in my restaurant."