Health department rescinds closure orders for five Douglas County restaurants

Tri-County says the eateries were not complying with new COVID-19 rules

The Tri-County Health Department has rescinded orders to close sent to five Douglas County restaurants, each located in Parker and Castle Rock, after owners agreed to follow the latest health order disallowing indoor dining.
The restaurants, the health department said, had continued to allow guests to eat inside after the state moved Douglas County to level red on its dial framework, which restricts counties' levels of openness based on COVID-19 cases. The rule was put in place at 5 p.m. Nov. 20.

"Tri-County Health Department has reached an agreement with all five restaurants that we closed on Monday and therefore have rescinded the closure orders for those establishments," according to a Nov. 25 emailed statement from the health deparment. "Our goal is to achieve compliance in order to prevent the spread of COVID, and we worked closely with the owners of each restaurant with a shared goal of helping them to reopen safely."

The restaurants sent the order to close on Nov. 23, according to Tri-County: The Whiskey Lodge in Castle Rock; The Library Co. Bar & Kitchen in Castle Rock; The Office Bar & Kitchen in Castle Rock; The Gym Co. in Parker; and Tailgate Tavern in Parker.

“These are all establishments that have received lots and lots and lots of complaints,” Jennifer Ludwig, Tri-County’s deputy director, said in a meeting with county commissioners Nov. 24. “They’ve received warning letters, one received a cease-and-desist order saying you must comply with the orders, and they did not.”

The health department also received multiple complaints from other restaurants that were complying with the order, she said.

“We were getting a ton of calls from all the other restaurants that were complying, saying, ‘This is hurting our business. This is hurtful for all of us but everybody needs to follow the orders or else it hurts those of us who are complying, it hurts us more,'” Ludwig said.

Each closure order was marked as “effective immediately,” according to the orders.

When asked by County Commissioner Lora Thomas if Tri-County had any evidence that these restaurants had contributed to the spread of COVID-19, Ludwig explained that while she didn’t have information on these exact locations, contact tracing efforts show that many people in the county have visited restaurants before testing positive for the virus.

“It’s seen as a higher risk area ... because of not wearing a mask, you’re sharing food, you’re talking loudly,” she said.

The orders also noted that owners who did not comply could be charged with a misdemeanor and face a fine of up to $5,000 and 18 months of jail time.

After his restaurant reopened, John Jordan, owner of the Tailgate Tavern, issued the following statement Nov. 27:
"No man or woman has the authority to steal or hinder any business without due process. When the American people finally wake up and realize that their public servants have run amok for their own personal and financial gain, there will be hell to pay, and we the people will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law each and every public servant who has violated the rights given to us by the Constitution."


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