Colorado bar owner joins pact to fight COVID restrictions: 'I refuse' to lay off staff before Christmas

Colorado businesses form pact to fight coronavirus restrictions

Colorado bar owner Morgen Harrington joined the group fighting COVID-19 orders in the state saying, ‘We won’t survive another shutdown.’

Colorado bar owner Morgen Harrington said on Tuesday that she is “incredibly frustrated” with new coronavirus restrictions in the state, which prohibit indoor dining, and joined a pact of nearly 100 bars and restaurants that are continuing to serve customers inside.

The co-founder and chief financial officer of Grimm Brothers Brewhouse in Loveland, Colo., told “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday that a “big part” of why she decided to join the pact is because she “can't look my staff in the face and lay them off again.”

“I refuse to do that right before Christmas,” Harrington continued. “We’ve got one woman that’s pregnant and she was in my office crying. I couldn't do that.”

Harrington stressed that Grimm Brothers Brewhouse “won't survive another shutdown.”

Businesses have signed a letter expressing the same sentiment, saying that the new restrictions are unfairly weighted and will lead to many going out of business, Fox 31 reported.

Numerous governors throughout the country, including Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, have reinstated safety precautions in recent weeks to combat the rapid spike in coronavirus cases just weeks before large family gatherings and getaway trips traditionally planned for the holidays.

Polis announced on Nov. 17 tightened restrictions for counties facing a severe risk of infection.

Within "red level" counties, indoor dining is temporarily closed and restaurants and coffee shops will be limited to take out and delivery only. Outdoor dining is allowed for customers in groups with members of their own household as long as the last call is at 8 p.m. Bars remain closed.  

Loveland is in Larimer County and is currently considered a “red level” county, according to The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.  Last week Polis reportedly said that “any type of business that violates a health order — whether its hepatitis, salmonella or COVID – could lose their license to operate and lose their liquor license.”


Host Brian Kilmeade asked Harrington what she thought when she first learned of the new restrictions.

“For us, that was really scary,” she responded. “We don't have an outdoor patio and we’re only allowed to use our parking lot for extended patio seating on Saturday and Sunday so that would mean that we’d be closed except for two days a week and that's not enough for us to pay our bills.”

She noted that the business invested “thousands of dollars to make big-time changes” and also removed 50% of seating in an effort to keep customers safe amid the pandemic.

Harrington acknowledged that government aid has been helpful until now, but it was “not enough to bring back our original staff and certainly not enough to keep our business afloat for another open-ended shutdown.”  She said the formation of the pact “was to kind of give a cry for help so that someone would step in and help us come up with policies that make more sense.”

Harrington pointed out that “grocery stores are allowed to operate under fewer restrictions than we had before the shutdown and it's a madhouse when you go in there and we can't operate with incredibly strict restrictions that feel like a direct attack on small businesses.”

In a statement, Gov. Polis' spokesman Conor Cahill said, “The governor has great sympathy with every small business wanting to stay open and their employees, which is a big reason that Colorado was one of the first states to reopen and continues to avoid a lockdown like neighboring states have.”

“It’s also why he called for a special session to provide tax relief and waiver of fees for Colorado’s restaurants and bars,” he continued. “The hard truth is that this is the worst point of the pandemic our nation has faced yet…”

As of Tuesday, the virus is blamed for over 268,000 deaths and more than 13.5 million confirmed infections in the U.S., according to data provided by Johns Hopkins University. The country on average is experiencing more than 160,000 new cases a day and over 1,400 deaths — a toll on par with what the country witnessed in mid-May.

As of Tuesday, Colorado has reported about 235,000 coronavirus cases and more than 3,000 deaths, according to data provided by The New York Times.

“Bars and restaurants are not the main source of this spread,” Harrington said. “But they are … the brunt of this impact.”


She stressed that increased restrictions on bars and restaurants are “not a logical way to go about this.”

“We need to have a conversation on how we can better come up with policies that fit everybody,” Harrington said.

Fox News’ Daniella Genovese and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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