Coronavirus roundup: State’s draft restaurant guidelines, city’s plan for $20M in funds

Larimer Square is one part of town where restaurants have already taken over the street from time to time. (BizDen file photo)

Gov. Jared Polis’ administration has released a draft version of guidelines covering how restaurants can operate when they’re able to reopen for dine-in service.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released the guidelines Tuesday, and said public comments can be submitted through Friday using an online form.

“Once final, these guidelines will be used when it is safe to start easing COVID-19 related safety restrictions for restaurants,” the department said in a news release. “On May 25, the state will decide if restaurants can begin reopening and at what level.”

The proposed guidelines suggest requiring restaurants to have at least eight feet between tables where customers are sitting, whether indoors or outdoors. Party size would be limited to a maximum of six people, and tables and other shared surfaces would have to be deep-cleaned between parties.

The guidelines state that dine-in occupancy, both indoors and outdoors, would be limited. The specifics of that limitation, however, have not been determined.

All employees would have to wear facial coverings and gloves, according to the proposed guidelines. They would have their temperature checked on a daily basis, with the results recorded.

The guidelines also ask restaurants to use a reservation system as much as possible to help aid in contract tracing if needed.

City spending federal stimulus money: The of Denver on Wednesday detailed plans to spend the first $20 million  of approximately $126.8 million it is receiving from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act stimulus package

According to a city news release, phase one emergency support funds will be used for the following purposes.

Housing relief: $6.5 million to support rent and utility assistance ($4 million), mortgage assistance ($1 million) programs and rehousing strategies ($1.5 million) for those affected by COVID-19

Food assistance: $2 million to support food assistance programs, as well as city agencies conducting feeding programs for vulnerable populations, including Denver Public Schools. These funds also will be used for sanitization and retrofitting of food pantries across the city. 

Nonprofit and business relief: $6.5 million to support grants to nonprofits ($2.2 million) and small businesses ($4.3 million). This is in addition to existing grants and relief funds provided by Denver’s Office of Economic Development & Opportunity. 

Public health and safety needs: $5 million to support continued public health programs and safety needs, including widespread community testing, sanitizing equipment for businesses, nonprofits and nursing homes, and personal protective equipment.

Layoff notices: Czarnowski Display Service told the state labor department in a May 15 letter that it is laying off 53 people between May 22 and June 10 “due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

“The Company hopes that business will pick back up at some point in the future such that we will be able to re-employ some of the affected employees, but we do not know if or when that may occur,” a company official wrote.

The company said it also laid off some employees in March, but the number did not reach the threshold requiring the company to notify the state.

The 53 employees being laid off in the coming weeks include carpenters, forklift drivers and project managers, according to the letter.

The Maven Hotel at Dairy Block, meanwhile, said in a May 15 letter to the state that it reinstated 84 previously furloughed employees to its payroll on April 26 as a result of receiving federal Payroll Protection Program funding. 

The Maven Hotel, which is operated by Sage Hospitality, reopened last Friday. In its letter, however, the hotel said it expects to lay off 52 employees again temporarily on June 16, although the hotel will remain open after that date. 

Donation: The Colorado Association of Realtors Foundation said this week that it is awarding $125,000 in grants to three Colorado nonprofit organizations to assist people who are experiencing housing-related emergencies. Habitat for Humanity of Colorado and the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless are each being given $50,000. Brothers Redevelopment is being given $25,000.

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