COVID in Colorado; DougCo restaurants open at full capacity
Several counties in the state have now lifted all COVID restrictions, allowing businesses to operate at full capacity.
DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colorado – In a year filled with restrictions, rules and mandates, normal has felt quite far away. So far.
For the first time in over a year, restaurants in a handful of counties across the state spent their first weekend operating at full capacity. Individual counties are now responsible for determining COVID restrictions, with some deciding that no restrictions are necessary.
“I think people are going out more and more because it just feels more and more normal,” said Michael Strauss, service manager at West Main Taproom and Grill at Parker. “We’re just happy that it seems like we’re going back to some normalcy.”
West Main Taproom and Grill opened in 2020 just weeks before the start of the pandemic. This weekend, they were able to accommodate as many customers as they wanted without any restrictions. The dining room can seat around 180 people. It is the first time that they have managed to do so in over a year.
Douglas County is one of the few counties in the state to decide that no additional restrictions on COVID are needed after the state lifted its restrictions on April 16.
Strauss said the restaurant was full.
“We are now at 100% of our capacity, which means we can sit every seat at every table,” Strauss said. “Before Friday we had to sit at every other table. We had about 13-15 tables that we just couldn’t sit, that were just dormant for the last year. Now, since Friday, we can sit at each table. “
During much of the pandemic, West Main Taproom had customers sit outside in ice fishing tents. An investment of thousands of dollars that has paid off.
The 50 tents could accommodate 300 people at a time at private tables. They will keep them as an option as they have become very popular among customers.
“If these tents didn’t exist and we didn’t go with them, we couldn’t have had a restaurant,” Strauss said. “People love the idea of sitting inside, getting back to normal, but I’ll tell you these tents are kind of a cult favorite. People love tents and they always ask for them.
As the indoor dining area at the West Main Taproom and Grill fills up, waiters still wear masks, and glass screens divide some of the tables and bars to prevent the spread of germs. Counties in the Denver metro area are expected to remove COVID restrictions in May.
“It’s as normal as normal these days,” Strauss said. “It’s hard to remember what normal was.”
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