Harmed by local COVID-19 restrictions, bar owner says county should offer financial support

Grand County Public Health has closed two local businesses to in-person dining

The co-owner of Ullr’s Tavern is calling on Grand County commissioners to help subsidize businesses after two small businesses were closed to in-person patronage following a massive COVID-19 outbreak at Winter Park Resort.

On Feb. 8, Grand County Public Health announced it would be reporting an outbreak among employees at Winter Park Resort. On Feb. 17, state data showed the outbreak included at least 129 workers with the spread happening mostly in employee housing and during gatherings.

That led Grand County Public Health to issue an order on Monday putting the restaurants at Winter Park Resort and two bars in the Fraser Valley on Level Red restrictions, which closed them to indoor service.

The health department didn’t release the names of the two businesses, but their owners have come forward with social media posts, signs in the window and during public meetings.

In a Tuesday workshop, Winter Park Town Council discussed the town offering more funding to local businesses harmed by COVID-19 restrictions, which prompted Ullr’s Tavern co-owner Rebecca Kaufman, who was appointed to council this month, to recuse herself from the talks.

“Ullr’s Tavern and The Spot were affected by this current health order, so I don’t think I can make a decision in an unbiased way,” she told the council.

Ullr’s Tavern is a well known bar and music venue in Winter Park and houses The Spot Grill, which serves up bar food for Ullr’s patrons. The other business affected is Fisher’s Bar in Fraser.

Kaydee Fisher, a co-owner of Fisher’s Bar, has been more open about her frustration with the decision and said she is considering legal action against the county because of lost business.

In one of its windows, Fisher’s had a sign on Tuesday suggesting the bar has become a “scapegoat” for the outbreak among resort workers.

The county health department confirmed that both businesses have been in compliance with public health guidelines and that neither business had any of its employees test positive for the virus

However, officials at public health have clarified that the two bars were put on tighter restrictions because contact tracing data showed significant trends of positive or presumable positive cases among patrons visiting the locations.

Over the phone, Kaufman told the Sky-Hi News that she heard about the coming public health order Thursday evening and decided to close Ullr’s and The Spot at that time to ensure the business wasn’t contributing to the spread.

While Ullr’s closed voluntarily before the order was issued, Kaufman still feels like her business has been singled out.

“It’s difficult,” she said. “I feel terrible for my staff who have worked really hard.”

Kaufman added that the losses from Ullr’s being closed over the holiday weekend were significant and will continue to add up.

Because county commissioners and Grand County Public Health made the decision, Kaufman feels like the county should step up to provide additional funding for the affected businesses, instead of relying on funding from nonprofits or municipalities.

“I just think that when the county and public health have to make necessary decisions that will reduce revenues for businesses, they should share in those burdens by supplying additional funds,” Kaufman said.

Ultimately, Kaufman said she doesn’t want other businesses to have to endure worse restrictions and hopes the community will continue to follow guidelines to get the case count down.

Preventing further spread in the community and focusing on vaccine distribution will help all businesses open up more and begin to recover, Kaufman added.

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