EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- El Paso County Board of Commissioners has passed a new variance which would expand the capacity for restaurants and private special events.
The alternative reopening plan, which was unanimously passed Tuesday, would increase the capacity limit for indoor restaurants and private venues to 175 people or 50 percent occupancy, whichever is lower.
Under current guidelines, a restaurant is only able to have up to 50 customers or half of its occupancy capacity, whichever is lower.
The variance request will now be sent to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for further review and final approval.
County Commissioner Marc Waller says he believes the variance will be passed, "We're trying to get most of our county opened up as expediently, as quickly, and as safely as possible."
For places like Phantom Canyon Brewery, the new variance would be a life-line.
"It's essential we get that as soon as possible," said bar manager Ben Biggs. "We're doing 30 percent of our sales from last year which is not sustainable."
The bottom floor of the restaurant holds 250 people. So if the variance passes, he could have 125 customers, and more customers mean more people could be able to get back to work.
"Anytime you increase the capacity like that, we got to make sure that the guests are getting great service and that we are staffed appropriately to do so," Biggs says.
While Phantom Canyon will be able to more than double its current capacity, the general manager for The Peppertree Restaurant Joshua Martinez says the variance won't bring any changes for them.
"I don't see it impacting us much at all with us being a smaller restaurant," Martinez said.
Their occupancy is at 125 so they could only be able to add about 12 customers. Even if the variance is approved, Martinez says he believes they won't implement it.
"We got some great feedback from the guests," he said. "They feel really safe."