Bars and nightclubs closed in Colorado for in-person service: What's next for local establishments

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DENVER (KKTV) - Colorado's governor announced on Tuesday that bars and nightclubs will need to close in-person service for the time being.

The Chicken Coop in Black Forest

The move comes amid a modest uptick in cases for the last two weeks -- the first such increase since April.

"Only three of the last 14 days have been down," Gov. Jared Polis said in a news conference Tuesday. "Nine of the last 14 days have been up."

Polis was quick to add that the increase was nowhere near the surge a number of other states were seeing, most notably nearby states Arizona and Texas.

"We're not where our neighboring states are. They've had big spikes. But we're not where we need to be."

Closing bars and nightclubs is an attempt to stymie the uptick before it's too late. Polis said in conversations with the governors of Texas and Arizona, both pointed to the state's nightlife, along with big parties and get-togethers, as the driving cause for their surge.

"Having bars open is too big a risk," Polis said.

He also pointed out the potential repercussions of being the only state in the region having bars and nightclubs open.

"Amarillo, Texas is just four and a half hours from Pueblo, five hours from Colorado Springs. With neighboring states closing bars, we don’t want to become a mecca of nightlife and having people come to Colorado to party."

The new guidance by Polis brings bars back to where they were two weeks ago, before they were permitted to reopen. Bars will be closed unless they serve food; if they do serve food, they will be able to open with precautions in place. The precautions include patrons must be 6 feet apart, seated with their own party, and there will be "no mingling." Bars will also be allowed to sell take-out alcohol.

Bars need to close for in-person service by the end of the day Wednesday.

The move is causing some confusion when it comes to who can and can't stay open.

As of Tuesday night the owner of Chicken Coop in Black Forest thought she would have to shut down. But the El Paso County Health Department says she can stay open. That's because like many bars, she has a food license. The Health Department confirmed this, so they are allowed to operate.

At first, the owner told 11 NEWS she was planning on staying open until the Health Department told her to shut down, but she is in the clear. The state tells us bars can sell alcoholic beverages still if they have that food license.

Sherri Koch, the owner of Chicken Coop adds although some places are able to stay open, they still need customers help.

"Go out and support as many places as you can. You know, us small business owners. There's only five of us that work here and that's tough to be shut down. And a lot of places are not going to make it on a second round. They barely made the first one, you know, just go support them. That's all I ask," Koch said.

Koch's bar was closed for more than two months because of the pandemic.

"It's not only affecting me as a business owner, my employees are what I'm worried about, you know?" Koch said. "And our bar, a lot of the older gentlemen, this is their, this is their coffee house so to speak. And they get lonely. They don't have anybody else. So for me as a bar owner, it's not about me. It's about my people. "

Bars and nightclubs will be allowed to open back up in the next reopening phase. That phase, "Protect Our Neighbors," won't be statewide, but will go county by county depending on the conditions there.

More information is expected to be released before Friday.

You can watch the announcement at the bottom of this article.