Pitkin County hopes state amiable to curfew extension
Pitkin County’s board of health agreed Thursday to make a pitch to the state to extend the current 10 p.m. curfew on business hours.
Responding to pleas from the restaurant community, the board unanimously agreed to have interim Public Health Director Jordan Sabella communicate with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment about making 11 p.m. the closing time.
It’s a strategy the county will pursue after previously self-imposing 9:30 p.m. as the cutoff time for liquor sales and 10 p.m. as closing time. Those voluntarily measures helped put the county into the Orange Plus phase last month while circumventing the harsher Red distinction, which prohibits indoor dining. Orange Plus allows 25% capacity indoors at dining establishments.
Restaurants operators and owners now want 10 p.m. as the cutoff time for bar sales and 11 p.m. as closing time.
One of them is Jimmy Yeager, who also advocated in meetings earlier this week for a later curfew. He said the later curfew isn’t about ringing up liquor sales. In fact, booze wouldn’t be sold after the 10 p.m., but diners could enjoy their meals in a relaxed setting rather than being pushed out at the same time.
“We’re talking about the restaurant community allowing their customers to enjoy their meals after the alcohol cut-off,” he said.
The purpose of Sabella’s discussion with the state is to see if it is open to a change in curfew times without pushing the county into the Red. The basis of that conversation will inform how the board of health plans to proceed with the curfew.
In a related development, the board of health agreed to get the county going on the implementation of a five-star certification program for businesses.
The state program would allow participating business to operate under less restrictive health guidelines in their respective counties.
The business community indicated Wednesday in a meeting, which was put on by the county and the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, that it was in overall agreement the program should be pursued. It is a voluntary program for business, yet many of the health measures the program would require are already in place in Pitkin County.
County commissioners have approved $146,000 to be used to fund the program. County Manager Jon Peacock said the money would pay for staff positions as well as implementation of the program.
County staffers also would be charged with enforcement, which would include stripping a business of its five-star certification if it fails to abide by the program’s requirements.
For the county to participate in the program, it would not be eligible until it sees two consecutive weeks of declines in its incidence rates, hospitalization and positive rates.
Officials said that is realistically four to six weeks away from happening, given that the incidence rate currently is over 1,000, nearly three times the state’s threshold rate of 350.