Expanded outdoor dining should be state law, even after COVID-19

Executive order results in several health benefits

The Colorado Capitol dome is pictured on June 11, 2020. (Andy Bosselman for Colorado Newsline)

By Loren Hansen

As several cities across the Front Range and beyond have been affected by the novel coronavirus, they have turned to outdoor dining as a means of allowing to increase the capacity of their restaurants. From downtown Golden on Washington Avenue providing additional seating for restaurants, to Breckenridge closing portions of their main street to serve as a pedestrian walkway, the summer of dining in Colorado looks to be al fresco. Just a few blocks north of me in Denver, Larimer Square has gone completely car free as well, looking more like a block in Paris than any American street in a major city.

Much of this outdoor dining has been facilitated by Executive Order No. 20-093, which has allowed the expansion of outdoor areas as a means of encouraging social distancing. While the science has proven that, though risk still exists dining outdoors, people are significantly less likely to catch COVID-19 from outdoor than indoor dining. Along with this, the health benefits of outdoor dining are well known, including boosting vitamin D levels and decreasing anxiety by getting fresh air.

To this end, Executive Order 20-093 should be extended beyond the pandemic and codified into Colorado state law.

While people may say that expanding outdoor dining may have a negative effect of closing down major roads and reducing parking, the health and economic benefits of allowing for additional seating outweigh the risk of reducing car storage.

In a state where outdoor dining is king during the summer, we will all reap the riches.

Loren Hansen, a resident of Denver and a writer, is a member of the Denver Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee. Twitter: @LorenMHansen; webiste: lorenmhansen.com.