Scarlett’s, Bootsy Bellows ‘voluntarily close’ for weekend, stave off legal action from Pitkin County
The owner of Scarlett’s and Bootsy Bellows voluntarily closed the downtown Aspen establishments for the weekend starting Friday after discussions with a Pitkin County assistant attorney about public health order compliance.
The mutual agreement reached Friday puts off any immediate legal action by Pitkin County, said its assistant attorney Richard Neiley as well as Chris Bryan, counsel for Andrew Sandler, who owns the two businesses.
“The businesses in question are Bootsy Bellows and Scarlett’s, and they have agreed to voluntarily close over the weekend so that they can come into compliance with public health orders,” Neiley said.
Bryan said: “The establishments voluntarily closed for the weekend so staff members and employees and the operator can better understand how to comply with the COVID-19 regulations.”
Sandler could not be reached Friday for comment.
The county issued Sandler a cease-and-desist order the first week of June for his businesses violating aspects of Pitkin County health orders put in place to prevent the spread of the novel coranavirus.
Bryan, however, said the process has been confusing ever since Sandler received the notice June 3. The notice had the incorrect date for the alleged infractions, which also were not specified, Bryan said.
“There was a notice of violation … but it doesn’t say what the violation is and it didn’t give any specifics,” Bryan said. “If you’re going to say somebody is out of compliance, you’ve got to say what they did. And that didn’t happen until this week when we had a conversation about it.”
This week’s talks came after last weekend’s compliance checks conducted on downtown restaurants by Aspen police. Restaurants in Pitkin County were allowed to re-open, at 50% capacity, on May 27. Other requirements include all employees wear face coverings, restaurants operate no more than 50% capacity and have tables spaced at least 6 feet apart.
Bootsy Bellows and Scarlett’s are both located at 204 S. Galena St.
“They have been willing to work with us in the last four days and we have explained the violations to them,” Neiley said, “and they recognize that those are violations and based on that, they have agreed to voluntarily close for the weekend.”
Those infractions included “failure to have adequate social distancing measures in place, serving from the bars, because bars are supposed to be closed in Pitkin County. Just most common sense stuff,” Neiley said. “They recognize they need to do some work to get into compliance.”
Further muddying the issue, Bryan argued, is that there is no clear distinction between voluntary and required compliance. Even so, “The message here is Scarlett’s and Bootsy Bellows will be in compliance,” he said.
The county was considering filing a temporary restraining order against the two establishments.
“That is not off the table, but is off the table today,” Neiley said. “We are going to meet with them Monday and discuss their road map for reopening.”
The restraining order would have sought a judge’s permission to order the two businesses to operate in compliance with the health orders.
“And if they violated that, they would be subject to being shut down immediately,” Neiley said.
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