Colorado Cafe Forced to Shut Down After Allowing Swarms of People Inside, Violating Coronavirus Reopening Guidelines

Colorado state health officials suspended the license of C&C Coffee, a restaurant in Castle Rock that drew a large crowd on Mother's Day. Video from the cafe on Sunday showed people packed into the small cafe, ignoring social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Jared Polis said the restaurant posted an "immediate health hazard" and said authorities would suspend would its business license for at least a month.

The restaurant made national headlines Sunday when Colorado Community Media shared a video of people lining up out the door to place an order. Inside, people of all ages were not standing apart, and very few wore face masks. Customers were dining in, even though Colorado has not lifted its ordinance against eating in restaurants. The video also showed a "bouncer" carrying a visible sidearm. Even after Polis withdrew the restaurant's business and the Tri-County Health Department ordered it to shut down, customers continued eating there, reports the Denver Post.

Tri-County Health said it received four complaints about C&C's reopening. Spokesperson Becky O'Guin said the agency was "disappointed" that order April Arellano reopened and was ignoring Polis' Safe at Home order. "This decision runs the risk of undermining the impact that other Douglas County businesses and residents have achieved over the last seven weeks by taking various social distancing measures," O'Guin said. "As the entity charged with enforcing the Governor's statewide Safer at Home Public Health Order, we will follow up with this restaurant to ensure that they, like other restaurants in the county, take appropriate steps to protect the public health, by limiting service to curbside and take-out service."

In an interview with Colorado Community Media, Arellano said she stayed close for two months, and her business was "failing," so "We had to do something." She said she believed the sanitation measures in place would be enough and was not concerned that not all of her customers wore face masks. "People are piling into (retailers)," she said. "So right now, I don't really see the difference. And we're human… I know a lot of things are ran by fear. I don't have that fear."

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Arellano's husband, co-owner Jesse Arellano, told the Post said some of Sunday's profits will be spent on fines but would donate some to other small businesses and churches. "If we mishandled food or whatever, they can intervene, and they do," Jesse Arellano told the Post of the health department. "I understand they have the power, I'm just saying I disagree with the power because they're not elected."

Colorado restaurants have only been allowed to do take-out and delivery services since March 19. Polis said officials would be offering guidance on how the businesses can reopen safely. He noted that C&C's suspension might mean the restaurant will not be allowed to resume operations while others that followed guidelines will be.