Coronavirus (COVID-19) Policies and Protocols for the Colorado Restaurant Industry

The restaurant industry is one of the most highly trained industries in matters of disease transmission and prevention. Our industry and our employees are highly regulated, and we are already utilizing proven methods to prevent the spread of disease. Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be transferred to humans through food. 

Jump to section:
COVID-19 Relief Package
Round 2 PPP Applications
5 Star State Certification Program County Guide
Reopening Phase Dial Dashboard
Emergency Orders
Guidelines for Outdoor Dining

Outdoor Winter Design and Grant Program
Free COVID Legal Help
Free PPP Help
Survey Results
Advocacy Efforts and Letters
COVID Testing
Business Resources
Employee Resources
Past Webinars
Past Town Halls
2020 CRB Virtual Education Series

Opt in to CRA Email and Text Communication

  • Email: We're sending regular digests of COVID-19 information pertinent to restaurants. Opt in to receive these emails here.
  • Text: Text CRAVIP to 22452 and respond yes to the prompts. We push out real-time updates and calls to action.

Read Our October 2020 COVID-19 Report

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

COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Package

Congress has passed a $900 billion relief package that includes several items aimed to assist the restaurant industry. Learn more about the aid for restaurants here.

Round 2 PPP Applications

Second draw applicants, access your application here.
First draw applicants, access your application here

5 Star State Certification Program Guide By County

Counties interested in implementing the 5 Star State Certification Program must submit a variance application for State approval. Once approved, the county can then launch its application for businesses. Interested businesses can apply for the program through their local county application system. Approved restaurants can then utilize the capacity guidelines of the next, less restrictive dial level. 

These are the current counties with approved 5 Star State Certification Programs or pending applications and how to find details on the specifics of the program and application process in each county. Below is a list of the 5-Star operating allowances for each county:
You can read more about the 5 Star State Certification Program here

Reopening Phase Dial Dashboard, Issued September 15, 2020; Revised November 17, 2020

The State rolled out its dial framework in an effort to clearly show which opening and capacity phase applies in each Colorado county. You can find the dashboard here -- click "show guidelines and restrictions" for details on each phase, and hover over your county to see variances.

November 17, 2020: The Governor added a new Severe Risk level to the dial, which stipulates further restrictions for restaurants. Read more here. 

Capacity restrictions by level are located here.

Outdoor Winter Concepts Now Live!

The State of Colorado, in partnership with the Colorado Restaurant Association (CRA), Colorado Restaurant Foundation (CRF), American Council of Engineering Companies of Colorado (ACEC), the American Institute of Architects Colorado (AIA) and the Associated General Contractors of Colorado (AGC) teamed up with other design and construction professionals in an effort to encourage and support restaurants in the creation of outdoor dining spaces this winter. See their concepts here.

The second round of applications for our grant program is now open! Apply here. If you submitted a completed application during round one, you do not need to resubmit your application unless we have specifically asked you to. 

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

Join our 2020 Colorado Restaurant & Bar Show Virtual Education Series!

The COVID-19 pandemic is the most devastating crisis the restaurant industry has ever encountered. After a crushing shutdown and a tenuous summer, many restaurateurs are now asking, how will we survive the winter? Our 2020 Colorado Restaurant & Bar Show Virtual Education Series aims to help restaurant owners and operators answer that question. Industry experts will dig into operational best practices to give practical, implementable ideas you can immediately apply to your own business. Over the course of several weeks, we'll cover contingency planning, cost-cutting, social media, takeout and delivery, lease negotiations, creative uses of space, additional revenue streams, and more. Join us for one session, all sessions, or anything in between. 

Register and learn more here.

Past sessions:
Sept. 23 - Financial Planning for Winter: here
Sept. 30 - Cash is King: here
Oct. 7 - Outdoor Dining Operational Considerations: here

Free COVID Legal Help

Denver-based law firm, Messner Reeves, is offering each Colorado restaurant up to four (4) hours of probono 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. 

Survey Results

Advocacy Efforts and Relief Updates

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.

Covid Testing Kits

Let’s Get Checked - Private at-home COVID testing kits:

  • Free Shipping + Online results in 2-4 days once swab is received by lab
  • 20% discount using Hospitality20 at check-out
  • FDA authorized
  • Minimum order of 20 tests upon first order

Cost: $107 per test includes expedited shipping

For more medical and mental health resources, many of which are free, click here.

Emergency Orders

  • Last Call - now tied to reopening phase
  • Safer At Home - Beginning April 27, 2020
    • Details on Safer at Home, click here.
    • State guidelines for restaurants here and local variances here.
  • Masks Required for Essential Employees - Issued April 17, 2020; Extended May 17, 2020
    • Employees of critical businesses are now required to wear masks while on the job. Read more here.
    • Denver's mask order, effective May 6, 2020, click here.
    • Mask orders across the state, click here.
    • Clarification on masks for BOH employees, click here.
    • Clarification on face shields, click here.
    • Mask signs for printing and displaying: click here and here.
  • Tax Deadlines Extended - Issued April 6, 2020
    • On April 6, Governor Polis issued a one-time extension of sales tax remittance, and suspended business personal property tax. See more here.
  • Statewide Stay at Home Order - Issued March 25, 2020; Extended April 6, 2020
    • On March 25, Governor Polis issued a Stay at Home for the State. Restaurants providing to-go and delivery service, as well as business that supply restaurants, are considered essential and are therefore EXCLUDED from these orders and may continue to operate. Read more here
  • Local Stay at Home Orders - Issued March 23, 2020, and later
    • We are tracking local Stay at Home orders across the State. In all cases, restaurants, as well as business that supply restaurants, are considered essential and are therefore EXCLUDED from these orders and may continue to operate. Read more here
  • Alcohol To-Go and Delivery Allowed - Order Issued March 20, 2020; Extended through July 26 on June 27, 2020
    • Restaurants and bars are now allowed to sell alcohol to-go and delivery. Read the details here. 
  • Emergency Dine-In Shutdown - Order Issued March 16, 2020; extended March 17, 2020
    • The State has issued an order to shutdown dine-in operations at bars and restaurants across the state, effective March 17, until April 30. Delivery, take-out, drive-up service, walk-up service, and drive-through service still allowed. Read the details here. 
  • Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Recommendations for Restaurants - Issued March 13, 2020
    • The role of restaurants in the COVID-19 response, action items, administrative considerations, when to close, when to reopen, and what to do if an employee test positive. Click here.
  • Emergency Paid Sick Leave - Rules Issued March 11, 2020
    • The State has issued emergency rules regarding paid sick leave for employees in the foodservice industry. Read more here, and see a sample sick leave policy from Fisher and Phillips.
    • April 29 update on amended rules, click here.

Business Resources

  • Local Grants: click here.
  • Reopening
  • FREE COVID-19 LEGAL HELP from Messner Reeves: click here.
  • CARES Act
    • START 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.
    • Apply for Funds

      • Paycheck Protection Program Application: click here. 
        • Paycheck Protection Program fact sheet for borrowers: click here.
        • Find PPP lenders in your area: click here.
        • Restaurant-to-Restaurant PPP lending recommendations: click here
      • Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Portal: 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
    • Webinar with partners Henry + Horne on Tax Benefits
  • Takeout and Delivery
    • Rules and recommendations for delivery, takeout, and drive-through: click here.
      • How to implement delivery with your own staff: click here.
      • Safety guidelines for delivery drivers: click here.
    • Alcohol delivery and takeout rules and recommendations, updated 7/16/20: click here.
      • Alcohol delivery and takeout and resources: click here.
      • Alcohol to-go and delivery passes legislature: click here.
    • Rules for selling whole food and bulk products: click here.
    • List your takeout and delivery status: 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:
  • 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.
Freshpoint is hiring displaced restaurant workers and will let them return to their restaurant job when things get back to "normal".
Apply at or scan the QR code for more information.

Past Webinars

  • Webinar on second round of PPP funding: Recording here. Q&A report here.
  • Webinar on Denver's outdoor vs. indoor structure guidelines: Recording here, slides here
    Read the Q&A report here.

  • Webinar on new labor and employment laws taking effect in 2021: Recording here, slides here, Q&A report here.
  • Webinar on Employee Safety Considerations: Recording here; slides here.

  • Webinar on Employee Liability Considerations: Recording here.

  • Town hall with city of Denver on outdoor expansion program: Q&A document here, recording here, presentation slides here.
  • Town hall on Reopening Guidelines: recording here.
  • Town hall on Advocacy Efforts with National Restaurant Association's Sean Kennedy: recording herenotes here.
  • Rent concerns: Tenant Rights & Remedies; click here.
  • Small Business Stimulus Through the CARES Act: What This Means for Restaurants; click here.
  • CARES Act Follow-Up Webinar, Featuring Officials from the SBA and Legal Resource Center Partner Messner Reeves; click here.
  • Finding Balance During the Storm: Managing Stress, Anxiety, and Depression During Chaos; click here.
  • Pivoting Your Marketing Strategy for COVID-19: click here
  • Town Hall on Labor Law and Insurance Questions: click here.

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.

Past Statewide Member Emails on COVID-19

Capacity Calculator for Extra Large Venues, click here.
Our Feedback on Protect Our Neighbors, click here.
Facemask Clarification for BOH Employees, click here.
Protect Our Neighbors Draft Guidelines, Live Music, click here.
Alcohol To-Go and Delivery Passes Legislature, click here.
State Advocacy Update, click here.
Alcohol To-Go Progress, Denver's Left Behind Workers Fund, click here.
PPP Fix Passed, click here.
Alcohol To-Go and Delivery Extended, State and Federal Advocacy, click here.
Required and Suggested Posters, click here.
Legislature Resumes, State Patio Expansion, click here.
Reopening Town Hall, click here.
Advocacy Update, PPP Rehiring clarification, click here
Video message, Denver's mask order, click here.
Alcohol To-Go and Delivery Extended, click here.
Colorado Paid Sick Leave Rules amended, click here.
Safer at Home details issued, click here.
Curbside alcohol clarification, click here.
Free COVID-19 Legal Help for Colorado Restaurants, click here.
Essential Employees Now Required to Wear Masks, click here.
Update on Dining Room Reopening Conversation, click here.
Local Relief Update, click here.
Feedback requested on dining room reopening; mask resources, click here.
Answer Our April Surveys, click here.
Tell Congress to Support Restaurants, Updates on Local Relief and Closures, click here.
Federal Advocacy Updates, PPP Lenders That May Be Accepting New Clients, click here.
Alcohol To-Go and Delivery Extended, click here.
Mask Guidance and Resources, State Extends Tax Deadlines, click here.
Angel Relief Fund Funding Update, Mental Health Webinar notes and recording, click here.
DOL Rules on Paid Leave, click here.
Paid Leave Compliance Update, click here
The CRA's Guide to the CARES Act, LED Rules for Alcohol To-Go and Delivery, click here.
COVID-19 Angel Relief Fund Application now live, click here.
Update on Colorado's Legislative Session, click here.
Delivery insurance requirements loosened, click here.
New required poster, DOL guidance on paid leave, more federal relief info, click here.
Expansion of sick leave coverage, local relief update, click here.
Details on the Federal Relief Package, click here.
Restaurants Exempt from Statewide Stay at Home Order plus How to Expand What You Sell, click here.
Tri-County, Jeffco, and Douglas County Stay at Home Orders, click here.
Restaurants Exempt from Stay at Home orders and Compliance Refresher, click here.
CDPHE guidelines for selling whole foods and bulk products, restaurants designated essential, click here.
Alcohol To-go and Delivery Rules, click here.
Summary of Governor Polis's announcement re: to-go alcohol, expedited unemployment, and more, click here.
SBA Loans, Denver's Relief Package, Federal Recovery FAQ, dine-in order extended, click here.
Federal Relief bill and March 18 update on advocacy efforts, click here.
Delivery, take-out, and drive-thru recommendations and rules, click here.
Statewide closure details plus emergency resources: 
click here.
What we’re asking for at the federal, state, and local level (with caveat that this continues to evolve as we learn more): click here.
Health department recommendations for restaurants, state recommendations on canceling gatherings of 250+: click here.
Paid sick leave, how to prepare, how to communicate to guests: click here

Past Local Communications on COVID-19

  • Guidance for restaurants with capacity of 250+: click here.


Helpful Links

  • 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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