Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday closed Colorado bars for in-person service — after allowing them to reopen at limited capacity on June 19 — due to the increasing spread of the novel coronavirus.

The move comes as Colorado has seen COVID-19 cases increase in the past two weeks. Other states experiencing surges in infections have also shut down bars. Polis announced the move during an afternoon press conference.

“Whether you personally go to bars or not, just understand that they are important for many people in our state… but there is not a way that we have found for them to be a reasonably safe part of people’s lives during the month of July in our state,” Polis said.

Bars will have 48 hours to close but can continue to sell alcohol to-go or by delivery. Bars that also sell food “and function as restaurants,” according to the Governor, can stay open for in-person service so long as they keep patrons seated at tables spaced six feet apart, without mingling.

Justin Anthony, who owns multiple Denver bars, had just finished putting the final touches on a patio expansion for one of his Larimer Street businesses, American Bonded, when he found out that bars and clubs would be closing again.

While some of his spots offer food and won’t be affected by the new round of closures, others will need to change their business model yet again to stay open.

“It is a daunting prospect to go through all of the planning… to set up something that is not just inviting but safe. All of the considerations that you’ve never had before, and what happens if the plug is pulled?” Anthony asked.

Over the nearly two weeks that bars and clubs have been allowed to reopen for in-person service, Anthony said he’s watched some fellow operators break the rules consistently.

“It’s so unbelievably frustrating to see some of my peers jamming people in, not paying attention to this stuff,” Anthony said. “I don’t think it occurs to these people, if they are just chasing the maximum profit… they are doing their colleagues in the industry a great disservice. It’s so shortsighted. And if you’ve got a patron base that is totally disregarding (rules)… it is going to prevent them from having places to go out to.”

“You are ruining it for the rest of us,” he said of these businesses and their customers.

This is a developing story and will be updated as new information becomes available.  

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