DENVER – After a year in masks, Denver restaurant workers are getting a little reprieve – but there’s a catch.
“If 85% of the employees in a restaurant can show they have been vaccinated, these face covers can come off,” said Bob McDonald, executive director of the Denver Department of Public Health and the Environment, Thursday.
The staff at Fox Run Cafe on East Colfax Avenue in the Congress Park neighborhood of Denver are qualifying for this big change.
“All but one. So we have seven or eight employees and one employee who is not vaccinated,” said owner Lucien Reichert.
He learned of this change to the city and county public health regime on Friday morning. The order now corresponds better to that of the state.
And like so many local business owners, he’s open to removing masks entirely.
“I’d like to get rid of them, just based on me and how we run this kitchen, which is a very small staff,” said Reichert.
But he’s not sure his customers are ready to see him and his staff without a mask. He wants more time.
“I think the worst thing would be to upset a customer who sees you back there and doesn’t wear a mask,” Reichert said. “I think it would [the customers] It’s more convenient to get a little further in the vaccination program before we take off our masks. “
Customers like Veronica Hudson understand that the restaurant staff is constantly handling changing orders.
“I just want to respect the wishes of the staff. So if they are comfortable not wearing masks during the vaccination, that’s fine with me. I’m vaccinated too,” she said. “At some point we may not get closer to normal again, but more to what we are used to.”
Sonia Riggs, the president and CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association, expects some restaurants to take the time to remove their masks. However, she worries about how customers will react.
“Are people going to go into this restaurant and say, ‘Well, these people clearly haven’t been vaccinated, so I’m going back out,'” Riggs said.
She asks people to be patient while restaurants find out everything.
“I will say that people, especially people in this industry, are especially sensitive and try to make sure they keep themselves, their colleagues and their guests safe,” she said.
Reichert tries to stay positive while deciding how to proceed.
“I’d rather play it safe when everyone comes in here than just get excited and take them off,” he said. “Hopefully in a year from now, COVID is just a reminder for everyone.