COVID-19 Policies and Protocols for the Colorado Restaurant Industry

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Read Our 2021 COVID Report
Vaccine/ Testing Emergency Temporary Standard
State Guidelines
Federal Relief
Advocacy Efforts
Sanitization & CDC Guidance

OSHA Issued COVID-19 Vaccine/Testing Emergency Temporary Standard

On November 4, the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released its Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for COVID-19 in the workplace.

Under the ETS, restaurants and other private-sector employers with 100 or more employees must comply with the following new COVID-19 regulations: 

By December 5, 2021:

  • Require unvaccinated employees to be masked in the workspace.
  • Businesses must have a plan to provide paid time off for employees to receive the vaccine and recover from any associated side effects.

By January 4, 2022:

  • Require all employees to be fully vaccinated or test weekly for COVID-19 by January 4, 2022: Qualifying businesses must ensure their employees have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (two weeks after a one-shot vaccination, such as Johnson & Johnson, or two weeks after the second dose of a two-shot vaccination, such as Pfizer or Moderna), OR produce an approved negative COVID-19 test at least on a weekly basis. 
  • Employers NOT required to pay for tests unless the employee has an approved exemption that prohibits them from being vaccinated.
  • Employers are subject to requirements for reporting and recordkeeping that are detailed in the order.

Review the following resources to learn more about whether your business qualifies for the ETS and how to comply:

Read Our 2021 COVID-19 Report

  • Curious what the CRA has done since the start of the pandemic? Read our report here.

State Guidelines

County Guidelines, Effective as of April 16

As of April 16, 2021, the State retired the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment-issued COVID-19 State dial and turned authority of COVID-19 operating restrictions over to local public health departments. To navigate your county's new guidelines for restaurants, view your local public health order here.

As of November 1, 2021, Boulder and Larimer counties have existing public health orders in place that affect restaurant operations. 

  • Click here to read Boulder County’s public health order (indoor masking)
  • Click here to read Larimer County’s public health order (indoor masking)

As of November 24, 2021, Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, and Jefferson have existing public health orders in place that affect restaurant operations, including the use of face coverings in restaurants.

  • Read the Denver County Public Health Order here, and an FAQ here.
As a matter of best practices, we have provided a copy of our recommended mask poster here, but it is not required. You can also access Denver's face covering signage here.

Guidelines for Indoor/Outdoor Winter Dining, Issued September 24, 2020

See indoor/outdoor guidelines from the State here.
See our summary here
Listen to a webinar with the City of Denver on Denver's winter patio program here. See the presentation here.
To learn about local outdoor expansion programs, click here.

Federal Relief Programs

Restaurant Revitalization Fund

President Biden signed the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) into law in March 2021 as a part of the American Rescue Plan Act. We would like to thank each and every one of you that lent your voice to the efforts of making this relief program a reality by responding to CRA surveys and calls to action. 


The RRF application process closed in June 2021 due to a lack of funds, leaving almost 60% of Colorado applicants without aid relief, for a deficit of more than $697 million.


We need you to tell Congress to refill the RRF to help our local businesses recover from the effects of the pandemic. Speak out here!

Watch our Restaurant Revitalization Fund Webinar with Senator Hickenlooper, the National Restaurant Association, the Small Business Administration, and Messner Reeves LLP here. View the presentation slides here and here
View a sample application  here.
View the application here.
View the Nat'l Restaurant Association's FAQ here.
View the SBA's program guide here.
View the SBA Knowledge Base here.
Our partners with Messner Reeves LLC can answer basic RRF questions free of charge to CRA members. Please email Torben Welch at

Employee Retention Tax Credit

The Internal Revenue Service urges employers to take advantage of this extended employee retention credit, designed to make it easier for businesses that, despite challenges posed by COVID-19, choose to keep their employees on the payroll. Unless this program is extended again through the Biden administration’s infrastructure bill, the ERTC will end on December 31, 2021.  

View the full guidance for the ERTC.

Watch a helpful webinar about applying for the ERTC webinar.

Contact Brian Campbell, CPA, Partner Henry+Horne for help with the ERTC at


A Colorado Restaurant Worker's Guide to Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

In Colorado, restaurant workers are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine as of March 19, 2021 and COVID-19 booster shots as of September 24, 2021. View the State's vaccination guidance here. For an FAQ about COVID-19 vaccines, including questions about how the vaccine works, vaccine safety, and whether you need to be a U.S. citizen to receive the vaccine -- you do NOT need to be a citizen -- click here.

Testing and Vaccine Resources From COVID Check Colorado

COVID Check Colorado provides free and easy access to COVID-19 testing and vaccinations. They have put together simple assets for you to share with your communities to help spread the word about the vaccine and testing -- how to access, effectiveness, immigration requirements, FAQs, etc. Flyers are available in 11 languages. 

Click here to access the materials and here to download the flyer. You are encouraged to share these digitally or to print to help encourage more people in your networks to get vaccinated.

Binax At-Home Rapid Testing Kits for Restaurant Workers

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is now offering free, at-home rapid COVID-19 testing to local food service employees and restaurant workers. Colorado is providing 2 million rapid Binax At-Home tests for eligible Coloradans to use, free of charge, while the state’s vaccination campaign progresses. This program is designed to provide easy access to testing with the goal of ensuring restaurants remain open, and employees feel safe at their place of work.
Sign-up is simple – employees can go to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Binax At-Home website, where they’ll be directed to fill out this Google form asking for basic information. Within 24 hours of filling out the form, employees should receive an email from CDPHE, which will include instructions and a link to order a test. 
These tests are available to all food services employees in Colorado with an email address. 
Click here for more information, and click here to fill out the form to register.

2020 & 2021 Colorado Restaurant & Bar Show Virtual Education Series!

The COVID-19 pandemic has been the most devastating crisis the restaurant industry has ever encountered. Our Colorado Restaurant & Bar (CRB) Show Virtual Education Series aims to help restaurant owners and operators stay up to date and in compliance for more efficient and successful daily operations. Industry experts will dig into best practices to give practical, implementable ideas you can immediately apply to your own business. Since September 2020, our CRB Show webinars have covered contingency planning, cost-cutting, operating takeout and delivery, lease negotiations, creative uses of space, additional revenue streams, stress management strategies, navigating unemployment insurance fraud, and much more. Join us for one session, all sessions, or anything in between. 

Register to view all sessions here

Free COVID Legal Help

Denver-based law firm, Messner Reeves, is offering each Colorado restaurant up to four (4) hours of pro bono legal services to address issues arising from the pandemic. This offer is available to all Colorado-based and Colorado-located restaurants, and the only requirement is that your legal issue is COVID-19-related. Areas of assistance include: 
  • Landlord/Tenant negotiations and lease review;
  • CARES Act/SBA Funding (PPP and EIDL loan applications, forgiveness and other issues surrounding the programs);
  • Vendor negotiations;
  • Policies & Procedures including employee and customer health, food safety, and other compliance requirements;
  • and more. 

To access this assistance, send an email succinctly stating what your issue is to  

Free Paycheck Protection Program Consultation

Henry+Horne, a Phoenix metro area CPA and accounting firm, is offering Colorado Restaurant Association members a two-hour consultation on COVID-19 relief funding, credits, and resources available for restaurant owners.

We can help you with:

  • Pandemic accounting best practices
  • Paycheck Protection Program loan application
  • Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness application
  • Qualified improvement property and carryback of losses for tax refunds
  • Sales tax relief
  • Payroll tax credits

Reach out directly to Brian Campbell at for help. 

Operational Webinars

  • Webinar on updated COVID-19 legal guidance and regulations for restaurants with Messner Reeves and Zedic and Zero Hour Health Services (August 26, 2021): Recording here, slides here

  • Watch our Restaurant Revitalization Fund Webinar with Senator Hickenlooper, the National Restaurant Association, the Small Business Administration, and Messner Reeves LLP (April 23, 2021). here. View the presentation slides here and here

  • Webinar on how to navigate unemployment fraud for restaurant operators (April 21, 2021): Recording here, slides here.

  • Webinar on second round of PPP funding (January 8, 2021): Recording here. Q&A report here.

  • Webinar on Denver's outdoor vs. indoor structure guidelines (January 6, 2021): Recording here, slides here
    Read the Q&A report here.

  • Webinar on new labor and employment laws taking effect in 2021 (December 18, 2020): Recording here, slides here, Q&A report here.
  • Webinar on employee safety considerations (June 18,2020): Recording here; slides here.

  • Webinar on employee liability considerations (June 22, 2020): Recording here.

  • Town hall with city of Denver on outdoor expansion program (May 19, 2020): Q&A document here, recording here, presentation slides here.

  • Town hall on reopening guidelines (May 26, 2020): recording here.

  • Town hall on advocacy efforts with the National Restaurant Association's Sean Kennedy (April 30, 2020)recording herenotes here.

  • Rent concerns (March 30, 2020): Tenant Rights & Remedies; click here.

  • Small business stimulus through the CARES Act (March 31, 2020): What This Means for Restaurants; click here.

  • CARES Act follow-up webinar, featuring officials from the SBA and Legal Resource Center partner Messner Reeves (April 13, 2020); click here.

  • Finding Balance During the Storm: Managing stress, anxiety, and depression during chaos (April 1, 2020); click here.

  • Pivoting Your Marketing Strategy for COVID-19 (April 2, 2020): click here

  • Town Hall meeting: Managing staff layoffs, furloughs, and reduced hours, and the truth behind insurance coverage (March 20, 2020): click here.

Business Resources

  • Local Grants: click here.
  • CARES Act
    • The CRA's Guide to the CARES Act (April 2, 2020): click here.
    • Details on the federal CARES Act relief package, passed by the Senate March 25,2020: click here.
      • CARES Act Small Business explanation: click here.
      • CARES Act Small Business Owner's Guide: click here.
      • Title 1-Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act Section-by-section explanation: click here.
      • Clarification on rehiring and PPP forgiveness (5/5/2020): click here.
      • PPP fix passed (6/30/2020): click here.
    • Apply for Funds

      • Paycheck Protection Program Application (3/30/2020): click here. 
        • Paycheck Protection Program fact sheet for borrowers: click here.
      • Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Portal: click here.
        • Information about EIDL loans (3/20/2020): click here.
      • Small Business Development Centers, which can help with applications: click here.
      • 100 most active SBA lenders: click here.
    • SBA loans
  • Federal Relief Tax Benefits
    • Tax Credits DefermentsandDeductionswebinar with partners Henry + Horne (4/16/2020)
  • Mask Poster 
    • If you need to implement a mask policy in your restaurant, here is a poster you can display to help enforce the policy.
  • On-Premise Best Practices for Restaurants and Food Services
    • For the Colorado Department of Public Health & Enivornment’s guidance on on-premise dining, click here.
  • Takeout and Delivery
    • Rules and recommendations for delivery, takeout, and drive-through (3/18/2020): click here.
      • How to implement delivery with your own staff: click here.
      • Safety guidelines for delivery drivers (4/14/2020): click here.
    • Alcohol delivery and takeout rules and recommendations, updated 6/24/21: click here.
      • Alcohol delivery and takeout resources (3/21/2020): click here.
      • Temporary Alcohol to-go and delivery passes legislature (6/23/2020): click here.
      • Alcohol to go made permanent through 2025: click here.
    • Rules for selling whole food and bulk products: click here.
  • Labor Law
    • Understanding Unemployment, click here.
    • Job Attached Unemployment and the workshare program: click here.
    • Business requirements for Families First Coronavirus Response Act: click here.
    • DOL Guidance on FFCRA Paid Leave from Fisher and Phillips: click here.
    • Updated Colorado paid sick leave rules: click here.
    • FFCRA Poster -- required April 1, 2020: click here.
    • Labor law FAQs and templates from Fisher and Phillips: click here.
    • Town Hall on Labor Law and Insurance Questions:
      • Unemployment fraud resources
        • CDLE's main fraud page.
        • Fraud reporting form for individuals.
        • Fraud reporting form for employers.
        • Employer services email address.
  • Rent Concerns and Tenant Rights and Remedies
  •  Sanitation
    • CDPHE recommendations for restaurants: click here.
    • Free ServSafe training video on COVID-19 considerations (English and Spanish): click here.
    • Sanitation recommendations from Auto-Chlor: click here.
  • Denver Business Support: click here.
  • Health and Mental Health Resources: click here.
  • Legal considerations related to COVID-19 from Messner Reevesclick here and click here.

Employee Resources

  • For a full list of unemployment, underemployment, and other assistance, click here.
  • Jobs for displaced hospitality workers: click here. (To post a job, click here.)
  • Basic guide to unemployment: click here. Department of Labor's FAQ site about Unemployment: click here.
  • File for unemployment: click here
  • Colorado online application for food stamps and other various sources of assistance programs such as help with child care, cash assistance, and access to health care coverage: click here.
  • Health and Mental Health Resources: click here.

Advocacy Efforts

We're working on many pieces of relief on your behalf, and will keep a running list of our efforts and what has been accomplished here.

Survey Results

Past Town Halls With Elected Officials

  • Town Hall with Senator-Elect John Hickenlooper, November 20
  • Town Hall with Senator Michael Bennet, April 28
    • Recording here
  • Town Hall with Mayor Michael Hancock, April 17. 
  • Town Hall with Governor Jared Polis, April 6.
  • Town Hall with Senator Corey Gardner, April 3.
We're working on many pieces of relief on your behalf, and will keep a running list of our efforts and what has been accomplished here.
  • Letters sent to elected officials: click here.
  • The CRA's Guide to the CARES Act: click here.
  • Details on the Federal relief package, passed by the Senate March 25: click here.
  • Webinar about what the CARES Act means for restaurants with Messner Reeves: click here.
Sanitization and CDC Guidelines
  • CDC real-time updates: click here.
  • Updates from the State of Colorado: click here
  • Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment COVID-19 Recommendations: click here.
  • COVID-19 toolkit from the National Restaurant Association: click here.

What You Can Do in Your Restaurant

  • As with all other illnesses and diseases, encourage your employees to stay home if they suspect they are sick or are showing symptoms of sickness.
  • Encourage employees to report symptoms from home and ask that they do not come in if they are feeling sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects including but not limited to tables, menus, POS systems, checkbooks, doorknobs, kitchen surfaces, restroom surfaces etc.
  • Increase hand washing. Consider implementing policies to wash hands at the top and bottom of the hour.
  • Provide 60% alcohol-based sanitizer for employees and customers.
  • Have a manager conduct a general “wellness check-in” at the start of each shift. Look for symptoms such as fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
  • There is initial testing that shows certain quat sanitizers that are not fully effective at eliminating and disinfecting COVID-19. Please call your distributor to confirm that the quat sanitizer you are using is effective against COVID-19.
  • If you need help fielding questions from the media, give us a call at 303-830-2972.
  • If you need talking points for guests, give us a call at 303-830-2972.

It is very likely that restaurateurs are already using many of these techniques in their business. Programs such as ServSafe prepare restaurant managers and employees with the necessary skills to prevent the transmission of diseases such as COVID-19.

If you are notified that a patron with transmittable COVID-19 has visited your restaurant and may have infected others, please call the CO HELP hotline at 1-877-462-2911 housed in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The public health experts on the hotline will be able to offer further instructions and precautionary measures.

If you have an employee who tests positive for COVID-19, contact your local public health agency and CDPHE (303-692-2700) immediately.

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