Shooters Grill in Rifle served with cease and desist order after reopening against state public health orders

Lauren Boebert

Garfield County officials on Wednesday obtained a temporary restraining order from the district court against Shooters Grill of Rifle owner Lauren Boebert, after she continued to operate her restaurant against public health orders and after being contacted by law enforcement to shut down.

Boebert was served with a cease and desist order Tuesday afternoon by law enforcement officials, but continued to operate Tuesday evening, and was open again and providing dine-in service on Wednesday evening, according to press release issued by the county late Wednesday.

“Diners were allowed to finish their meals, but no additional patrons were allowed entry,” the release stated.

Boebert was openly defiant about reopening against state health orders related to the mandated coronavirus shutdowns when speaking before the county commissioners on Monday. She said she was operating at 30% of her normal capacity, same as Mesa County restaurants are being allowed to do under a state-granted variance, and taking other health precautions to ensure social distancing.

Boebert was not immediately available for comment Thursday morning on the restraining order and closure to dine-in service. Shooters is still allowed to provide take-out service under the order.

The action against Shooters comes as the Garfield County commissioners are actively working to petition Gov. Jared Polis to allow more local businesses to reopen, “in a staged and safe manner,” according to the release.

Commissioners sent a letter Monday afternoon to Polis pointing to the number of local COVID-19 cases (112 to date), and the compliance that the construction industry, grocery and convenience stores and other essential businesses have met locally under the former Stay and Home and the Safer at Home orders that are now in place.

The county is requesting that restaurants be allowed to open at 30% capacity with inside and outside dining. In addition to food establishments, the commissioners have asked that other businesses be allowed to reopen with monitoring by Public Health.

Since May 1, more than 600 business social distancing plans have been submitted to Garfield County Public Health.

Late last week when Boebert first reopened to in-restaurant dining, Rifle Police officers and Public Health consumer protection staff had directly advised Boebert of the Safer at Home and county restrictions, according to the county release.

“She was notified multiple times about the violations and potential legal consequences, and was asked to voluntarily come into compliance,” the release stated.

State and local orders prohibit restaurants from offering food or beverages for on-premises consumption, as well as movement in and out of restaurants by the public, until May 27.

“The orders and the temporary restraining order allow Shooters to continue to provide curbside and take-out service,” the release stated. “Boebert had also been advised multiple times of the terms for violation of the orders, along with requests for her compliance.”

The county commissioners had hoped that the state could grant the variance for an earlier opening as soon as this Friday. However, the county is continuing to formalize its variance request to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, so that is not likely.

The temporary restraining order against Shooters will remain in effect until a hearing on the merits can be held on Monday.

Gov. Polis has indicated that, on May 25, the state will decide if restaurants can begin reopening and at what level.

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