Over 200 bars, restaurants in Colorado sue over last call order

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A group representing over 200 bars and restaurants in Colorado has filed a lawsuit against Gov. Jared Polis and the state health department over the new, temporary last call mandate ordering establishments with liquor licenses to stop serving alcohol after 10 p.m. as the coronavirus health crisis continues.

The Tavern League of Colorado, which represents hundreds of bars and restaurants in the Centennial State, filed suit in Denver District Court on Wednesday, contesting the last call order and customer capacity limits, The Denver Channel reports.

“Defendants have singled out bars and restaurants for unfair and different treatment, despite the lack of any evidence that bars and restaurants are unique vectors for the spread of COVID-19,” the suit states. According to KDVR, it was most recently amended on Wednesday.

“Defendants have imposed strict Numerical Capacity Limits on bars and restaurants — different than other indoor venues—that ignore the restaurant’s total size. As a result, Colorado’s restaurants are failing at an alarming rate, unable to pay the rent and utilities at locations that are capable of accommodating, for example, 900 patrons in over 18,000 square feet, when they are limited to no more than 50 patrons per room and only 100 in total,” it continues.

In response, a spokesperson for Polis issued the following statement and explained the governor’s decision.

“These are challenging times and no one wants Colorado’s small businesses to bounce back stronger more than the Governor. Based on the data and science, the Governor feels he is taking the steps that are absolutely critical in order to keep our economy reopening and prevent the virus from gaining a stranglehold,” the spokesperson said, per KDVR.

“The fate of our state in both virus suppression and economic recovery is largely in the hands of Coloradans. It’s important to reduce our social interactions, remain six feet from others whenever possible, and wear facial masks when we’re in public,” they continued. “The State is looking at data showing that more Coloradans in their twenties are participating in social activities that increase the risk of spreading COVID-19.

“In order to curb those activities, the Governor has signed an Executive Order temporarily moving last call for the sale of alcohol to a consumer to 10:00 p.m.”

Polis announced the mandate during a Tuesday news conference. According to the Denver Channel, the new rule will take effect at 9 a.m. Thursday and last for 30 days.

The booze ban applies to all establishments with a liquor license, such as bars, restaurants, and breweries, Fox 21 reported. While these businesses are welcome to remain open after 10 p.m., they can’t serve liquor after that time.

Normally, last call in Colorado is 2 a.m.

“Anybody who has been drunk just knows this inherently; your best goals around social distancing and your best intents just fall by the wayside,” Polis said earlier this week, per The Associated Press. “If you’re in a group of 50 or 100 people where folks are inebriated, inhibitions are reduced.”

Bars and nightclubs in the state were ordered to close at the end of June as Colorado saw an uptick in COVID-19 cases, but those serving food and operating restaurants could stay open, the Associated Press reports.

As the state slowly began reopening its economy in recent weeks, watering holes became popular again, which has reportedly contributed to a spike in COVID-19 cases among 20- to 29-year-olds.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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