Gov. Jared Polis on Monday blasted Colorado businesses that over the weekend flouted rules meant to keep the coronavirus from spreading out of control, saying he was “extremely disappointed.”
Polis announced that his administration is indefinitely suspending the license of C&C Coffee and Korean Kitchen, the Castle Rock restaurant that was packed full of dine-in customers on Sunday in defiance of his orders only allowing restaurants to offer delivery and takeout. He said the business is causing an immediate health hazard.
C&C Coffee and Korean Kitchen’s owners said they were standing up for small businesses and expected sanctions. Polis said it’s likely the suspension will last about 30 days, which means the restaurant could be closed after he allows in-person dining to resume.
He said that people who are thinking about disobeying orders meant to keep the virus at bay should think about their neighbors who stand to lose loved ones — and those who already have suffered loss.
“When folks feel the need to engage in activity that may spread COVID-19, I want you to pause and think about the grief that families across our state are feeling,” he said.
To illustrate his point, Polis read quotes from people who have survived coronavirus infections and from family members of people who died from COVID-19.
“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.”
Polis’ message came just minutes after the Tri-County Health Department also announced it was shutting down C&C Coffee. A video taken at C&C Coffee on Sunday showed it packed with customers, few of whom were wearing masks or keeping their distance from other patrons.
Polis said he hopes and prays that no one falls ill from businesses that flout his orders.
“We hope and we pray that nobody who went to C&C Coffee and Kitchen had coronavirus,” he said. “And we hope that everybody is safe who went there.”
Polis said that if other restaurants follow C&C Coffee’s lead, the results would certainly be catastrophic.
“We control our destiny,” he said. “It is a challenge and an opportunity for us. … Your actions can save people’s lives, maybe even people that you know and love.”
Camping at state parks can resume
The governor also announced on Monday that he is easing some more restrictions on Coloradans’ movement and that people will be able to go camping at state parks starting on Tuesday.
He encouraged those who choose to go camping to fill up their car with gas and supplies so they don’t have to go to stores and potentially infect people in towns they are visiting.
“Don’t risk infecting areas that have been free from the virus or, perhaps, acquire the virus,” he said. “We want to limit those interactions. Just enjoy the outdoors for the sake of the outdoors, rather than taking this as a tourism opportunity to visit other communities in the state.”
The decision to allow Coloradans to travel for camping competes with the governor’s order that people not travel more than 10 miles from their homes to recreate. Polis did not say how enforcement would be carried out under the contradictory announcements, but indicated that as long as people are avoiding shops and gas stations in communities other than their own that it would be OK.
Polis said he will decide by May 25 if and when restaurants can reopen, if and when children’s summer camps can operate this summer, and whether spring skiing will be allowed.
Arapahoe Basin is hoping to offer skiers and snowboarders a few weeks of access to their slopes. Alan Henceroth, the ski area’s chief operating officer, said this season’s snowpack could allow skiing into late June.
“We’re hopeful things are going in the right direction, based on the latest data and evidence,” he said.
Confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus in Colorado are nearing 20,000. Polis said at least 981 people have died from the disease.
The governor said the disease’s growth rate is 0.9%., which is far lower than it was in early March when the virus was first detected in Colorado.
Polis heading to meet Trump
Polis will be traveling to Washington on Wednesday to meet with President Donald Trump about the coronavirus crisis. He acknowledged the significant risk of making his way to the East Coast, but said that he feels it is necessary to ensure Colorado is getting the supplies it needs.
“There’s really no way that I could say ‘no’ to this opportunity to advance the needs of the people of Colorado” Polis said. “… It’s important for him to hear what’s really going on on the ground. The fear. The anxiety. The economic challenges.”
The multimillionaire Democrat says he will take a commercial flight.
Polis has, at times, been highly critical of the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, especially when it comes to the state’s ability to procure supplies.
The governor on Monday, however, said that he is willing to work with anyone who can help Colorado. He plans to hold a public briefing after his meeting with Trump on Wednesday to inform the media and Coloradans about what happened during the visit.