Gov. Jared Polis reiterated his goal to announce a date for reopening Colorado restaurants and bars for dine-in services by May 25 in a press conference on Monday.
Specific guidelines for how restaurants will be allowed to operate will be released later Monday or sometime Tuesday to allow business owners to begin preparing, he said.
Because people are significantly safer if they're six feet apart from someone outside than they are in a smaller area with limited airflow, and because restaurants will have to operate at a reduced dining capacity inside their buildings, Polis said the only way the state will have a thriving restaurant scene in the coming months is through expanded outdoor dining options.
"With a reduced dining capacity in the actual facility because of the way the airflow works and how contagious (the coronavirus) is...the way that restaurants can get to 100 percent capacity, even 150 percent, is by spreading out in their parking lot, their streets, the sidewalk,"Polis said.
The state will waive every rule and regulation it can — including the prohibition of serving beer and wine on the streets — to set restaurants up for success during the pandemic, but ultimate control will lie with municipalities, he said.
"If cities value having restaurants, and keeping them in business as part of their quality of life, it's really important that they open their sidewalks, parking lots and or streets in the next few weeks to have that capacity. Because restaurants simply can't stay in business at a quarter or half capacity."
Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported that restaurants would reopen on May 25. The date for when restaurants will be able to reopen is expected to be announced on May 25.