Colorado restaurant shut down for allowing sit-down dining

DENVER (AP) — A Colorado restaurant that opened for full service on Mother’s Day in defiance of state rules banning sit-down dining was ordered to close Monday and had its license suspended indefinitely by health officials.

A video posted by Colorado Community Media showed people sitting at tables and waiting close together in line at the counter of C&C Breakfast and Korean Kitchen while others lined up outside.

Except for one person wearing a mask, the scene at the eatery in Castle Rock about 30 miles (48 kilometres) south of Denver appeared similar to a busy day at many restaurants before the government allowed only takeout service due to the coronavirus.

Gov. Jared Polis said the restaurant was “causing an immediate health hazard,” and its business license will remain suspended until it is no longer a threat.

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“We’re walking a tightrope between protecting all of our health and of course trying to grow our economy,” he said. “It’s hard enough to walk without folks shaking the rope because of their own ideological or anti-scientific views, which they choose over the lives of our brothers and sisters.”

The Tri-County Health Department said if the owners refuse to comply, further legal action would be taken that could include the revocation of its license.

“It is not fair to the rest of the community and other business owners that are following Safer at Home and doing their part,” the department’s executive director, John M. Douglas, Jr., said in a statement.

In a tweet to President Donald Trump, the restaurant’s owners said they were standing up for America, small businesses and the Constitution, and against Polis’ overreach in response to the outbreak.

The owners, Jesse and April Arellano, could not be reached for comment by telephone on Monday. After laying off most of their staff during the outbreak, Jesse Arellano told KCNC-TV on Sunday that they wanted to get the attention of lawmakers. He acknowledged they could face sanctions for their actions but said they wanted to know how much support they had.

“We figured if we’re going to crash, we’re going to go down and see how many people stand with us,” Jesse Arellano told the station.

Restaurants in Colorado are not allowed to offer sit-down service under Polis’ latest order, but the state has allowed eateries in western Colorado’s Mesa County to open tables to customers — though only at 30% capacity — because of its low number of cases.

Mesa County has not had any coronavirus deaths. Douglas County, where the Castle Rock restaurant is located, is a wealthy county that is a mix of suburban and rural areas. It has had 28 deaths due to the virus, about 3% of the statewide count.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

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