LOVELAND — A group of restaurant and brewery owners in Larimer County said Monday afternoon that enough is enough. They will not be shutting down in-person dining under the county’s new “level red” designation on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s COVID dial.
“While COVID is not a death sentence for the majority of people who get it, this order will be for many Loveland Businesses,” said Clay Caldwell in a news release. “To follow this order would mean laying off dozens of people who then don’t know if they have enough to pay rent and give their family a nice Christmas.”
Caldwell, owner of Betta Gumbo, and Morgen Harrington, one of the owners of Grimm Brothers Brewhouse — both in Loveland — are leading the effort. They announced their decision through a news release Monday afternoon. They said they will continue to operate at the “yellow” level they have been at.
“These orders are no longer about public health, because if that were true, (Tom) Gonzales and (the health department) would actually take the whole health of the community into account. We can’t just solve one problem; we have to have a dialogue about how we work together as a community.”
Caldwell and Harrington will hold a press conference at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday morning at 277 N. Lincoln Ave. on behalf of their group, which they’ve named “Small Business for a Healthy Loveland.”
In the release, the group says the new restrictions from the Larimer County Health Department are unfairly weighted and will lead to many going out of business, leading to greater unemployment numbers, contributing to the economic, social, mental and overall community health decline.
The group’s refusal to close is just the latest in a line of pushback against Gov. Jared Polis and the CDPHE shutting down restaurants and bars amid rising cases of coronavirus.
They are the first businesses, however, to add their names to that list.
Last week, Weld County Commissioners, who act as that county’s health board, issued a press release stating they would not enforce any of the new mandates. Mesa County followed shortly after, and on Friday, Alamosa County Commissioners also passed a resolution saying they did not accept the designation.
Complete Colorado had not heard back from the Governor’s office or CDPHE at press time. It will update the story, as necessary.
The news release did not stipulate exactly which businesses signed a joint letter to the Larimer Department of Public Health and Environment, however, in the letter they stated their reasons for remaining open, some of which included:
- “The numbers represented in the Larimer County Dashboard are misleading and used to further the case for closures that are not warranted. They do not elevate science, nor are they used to find suitable solutions for the overall health of the community.”
- “We believe government policy should reflect the reality of known information. We know covid-19 is dangerous for elderly and those with compromised immune systems, therefore the government’s policy should be directed to finding a balance that keeps businesses open while protecting the vulnerable members of our community.”
- “We know small business, local restaurants and even gyms are NOT a significant source of transmission.”
- “As small business owners we employ thousands of residents in Loveland whose health you are jeopardizing by forcing them into unnecessary unemployment. While COVID is not a death sentence, this order will be for many small businesses in Loveland.”
- “There is an innate bias in the orders that protect the big corporations and not small businesses, this order is a direct hit to small businesses in Loveland, without any plans to remediate the situation. It is a short sighted, attempt to solve only one challenge with no regard for the economic and mental wellbeing of the community.”