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. 

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Read Our COVID Report
State Guidelines
Federal Relief
Advocacy Efforts
Sanitization & CDC Guidance

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 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.

Reopening Phase Dial Dashboard, Issued September 15, 2020; Revised March 24, 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. Click here to view the most recent updates relevant to restaurants effective on March 24, 2020 (Dial 3.0).

5 Star State Certification Program 

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. Click here to view the 5-Star operating allowances and program links for each county.

You can read more about the 5 Star State Certification Program 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.

Federal Relief Programs

Restaurant Revitalization Fund

President Biden has signed the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) into law as a part of the American Rescue Plan. The RRF, which provides federal grants to the hardest hit sector of the economy during COVID-19, is now a reality. The RRF features $28.6 billion for restaurants with 20 or fewer locations, and will be administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). We would like to thank each and every one of you that lent your voice to these efforts by responding to countless surveys and calls to action. Your efforts have paid off, your voices have been heard, and this could not have been possible without you! 

The RRF application opens on Monday, May 3, at 10 a.m. MST. Restaurants can pre-register here on Friday, April 30, at 7 a.m. We encourage you to apply as soon as the application goes live. Prepare to apply with the following resources:

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 the application here.
View a sample application here.
View the Nat'l Restaurant Association's FAQ here.
View the SBA's program guide here.
View the SBA Knowledge Base here.

Applicants can apply for RRF grants through one of three ways:
  • Through one of the following POS service providers:
    • Full-Service Vendors providing application submission and automation for current customers:
    • Participating Vendors providing supporting documentation and knowledge support for current customers:
  • By submitting your application online here.
  • By applying through the phone at (844) 279-9989. Please note phone applications may be subject to a longer processing time.
Our partners with Messner Reeves LLC can answer basic RRF questions free of charge to CRA members. Please email Torben Welch at

Round 2 PPP Applications

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


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. View the State's vaccination guidance here.

We have created a guide to help the restaurant workers navigate the vaccine roll out process. 

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. 
Upon receiving a test kit, individuals will log onto a telehealth portal and receive guided instruction by a trained representative from eMed, one of the nation’s leading digital health providers. Telehealth services are available in here.
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 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.

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. 

Past Webinars

  • Webinar on updated COVID-19 legal guidance and regulations for restaurants with Messner Reeves and Zedic and Zero Hour Health Services: Recording here, slides here.
  • Webinar on how to navigate unemployment fraud for restaurant operators: Recording here, slides here.
  • 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.

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
  • FDA authorized
  • Minimum order of 20 tests

Cost: $86 per test includes expedited shipping

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

Business Resources

  • Local Grants: 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.
      • Webinar about what the CARES Act means for restaurants with Messner Reeves: click here.
      • Unemployment fraud resources
        • • CDLE's main fraud page.
          • Fraud reporting form for individuals.
          • Fraud reporting form for employers. 
          • Employer services email address.
          • Employer email update subscription site.
      • National Restaurant Association webinar about the Federal Relief Package: click here.
      • Small Business explanation: click here.
      • Owner's Guide: click here.
      • Section-by-section explanation: click here.
      • Clarification on rehiring and PPP forgiveness: click here.
      • PPP fix passed: 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
  • Mask Guidance 
    • If you would like to implement a mask policy in your restaurant, here is a poster you can display to enforce the policy in your establishment.
  • 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.

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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