Several Loveland businesses to defy new COVID rules

LOVELAND — A group of Loveland businesses is leading a revolt against the change in COVID-19 rules affecting business operations in Larimer County and have signed a letter saying they will continue to operate under the existing yellow pandemic rules instead of the more-restrictive red category of rules that will go into effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Clay Caldwell, owner of Betta Gumbo restaurant in downtown Loveland, and Morgen Harrington, chief financial officer for Grimm Brothers Brewhouse, are organizing a press conference Tuesday to announce their reasons for violating the new Larimer County health department order. They are acting on behalf of Small Business for a Healthy Loveland. They say the new restrictions are unfairly weighted and will lead to many of the signers going out of business. As a result, business failures will lead to greater unemployment numbers and contribute to the economic, social, mental and overall community health decline, they say. 

“While COVID is not a death sentence for the majority of people who get it, this order will be for many Loveland businesses,” Caldwell said in a written statement. “To follow this order would mean laying off dozens of people who then don’t know if they have enough to pay rent and give their family a nice Christmas. These orders are no longer about public health, because if that were true, Mr. [Tom] Gonzales [the Larimer public health director] and his department would actually take the whole health of the community into account. We can’t just solve one problem; we have to have a dialogue about how we work together as a community,” Caldwell said.

Names of businesses that have signed the letter were not available Monday afternoon but were expected to be available Tuesday.

The letter said that Larimer County’s fatality rate is lower than the national average and “Larimer County has demonstrated that people can operate under the current level 2 conditions and still maintain a low mortality rate and infection rate.”

The letter writers have taken issue with the statistics that the health department has posted to its website and said that small businesses, local restaurants and gyms are not a significant source of transmission of the disease. 

In a statement, Larimer County Public Health spokeswoman Katie O’Donnell said the state has made clear that it will revoke licenses for non-compliant businesses.

(BizWest reporter Dan Mika contributed to this report.)

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