As COVID-19 cases trend upward in Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis gave an update Oct. 13 on the state’s response to the pandemic and discussed ways to support local restaurants during the crisis.
"Coloradans are very alarmed by the increased number of very sick people coming into hospitals and know that we must do better with the basics like reducing the number of people we are with, washing our hands, avoiding crowds, and wearing a mask," Polis said.
"Prior to serving as Governor, I built businesses and know that our economic health is inherently tied to our public health. We know that when our restaurants thrive and consumer confidence increases, our agriculture industry and supply chain benefits.
"The better we do at suppressing this virus and finding creative solutions for safer outdoor dining, the more we can support small businesses, like our restaurants, and keep building back our economy stronger than before."
Last week, Colorado recorded more than 1,000 cases of COVID-19 in a 24-hour period — the most since March.
Oct. 13, the state saw another day with more than 1,000 cases and the positivity rate was above 5 percent. On Sept. 4, there were 132 confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state; on Oct. 12 there were 288.
Polis was joined at the press conference by Sonia Riggs, president and CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association; Aileen Reilly, owner of Beast + Bottle and Coperta; and Alice Jackson, President of Xcel Energy Colorado to discuss the pandemic's impact on the restaurant industry and what Coloradans can do to support local restaurants.
Polis joined Reilly in support of the Restaurant Act — a bill introduced in the House of Representatives in June to provide funding to food and beverage purveyors through a federal grant program — to provide aid to the industry.
At the press conference, Xcel Energy Foundation and Xcel Energy announced they will be committing an initial $500,000 to the Colorado Restaurant Association Foundation to help support local restaurants through the winter season and are also committing to matching donations of $50,000 — up to an additional $250,000 — for every $500,000 raised for the Colorado Restaurant Association Foundation.
Polis also announced architects, contractors, engineers, local public health and government officials, and restaurant leaders will convene virtually Oct. 19 to discuss creative ways to keep up the outdoor dining experience this winter.
Restaurants have been creating outdoor dining spaces over the last seven months and Polis encouraged city leaders and local government officials to think of ways to sustain safe outdoor dining throughout winter by using fire pits, space heaters and tenting.
Coloradans can support their favorite restaurants by continuing to dine with them and by donating at COOutdoorDining.org.