By Conor McCue

DENVER, Colo. (CBS4) – Colorado counties under Level Red COVID-19 restrictions will be moved to Level Orange on the COVID dial Monday, which means, aside from some indoor dining being allowed, limited indoor events and entertainment will be able to continue.

(credit: CBS)

According to the state’s guidelines for COVID restrictions, indoor seated events and entertainment can operate at 25% capacity, up to 50 people, with 6 feet of social distancing between parties. Under Level Red, such venues were closed, excluding museums, aquariums, and zoos.

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While some venues will open for limited events this week, industry experts tell CBS4 it may take some time before many others are able to do the same.

“We’re not a restaurant, so we can’t say we’re closed yesterday, but we’re going to turn on the lights and we’re going to provide food to 25 people tomorrow,” said Brynn Swanson, owner of First Look Events and a board member for the nonprofit Colorado Event Alliance. “Our industry depends on event planning, invitations, vendors, bands; it’s just not a light switch. We can’t turn it on.”

(credit: CBS)

One entertainment venue that will remain closed for the time being is the Clocktower Cabaret in Denver. The vibrant and nostalgic bar, known for burlesque and drag shows, has already opened and closed twice during the pandemic.

“It’s good news, but we’re being a little more careful this time around,” said owner, Selene Arca.

(credit: CBS)

Arca and her husband last closed the cabaret at the end of October, when they began to be concerned with Colorado’s COVID numbers. To reopen immediately would involve a lot of work and some risk, Arca tells CBS4.

“It’s like another grand reopening, and that takes a lot of time, that takes a lot of man-hours, it takes a lot of resources,” Arca said.

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Brynn Swanson is sympathetic to situations like Arca’s. Since the beginning of the pandemic, she has rescheduled over 30 of her clients’ weddings and has seen her revenue plummet more than 90%.

While Swanson and others with the Colorado Event Alliance see the loosening of restrictions as a step in the right direction, they’re not expecting a large, immediate impact on the industry. Swanson said it’s likely a few events here and there will pop up over the next few weeks, but many businesses won’t choose to, or be ready to, get things going right away.

“I think the biggest thing it does is it shows we’re taking those steps where we will be back running full steam next year and hopefully those small steps lead to some consumer confidence,” Swanson said. “People need to feel like this vaccine is going to work and we’re going to be able to get together and celebrate in person again.”

In Swanson’s industry, she hopes that possible increase in consumer confidence will lead to more couples resuming or starting their wedding planning.

At the Clocktower Cabaret, Arca and her husband are also hopeful, and eyeing the weekend of Valentine’s Day for a possible reopening.

“We said it in the summer, and we said it in October, we’re going to ride this crazy rollercoaster as long as we can and as long as it makes sense,” Arca said.

Swanson tells CBS4 the Colorado Event Alliance recently met with Gov. Jared Polis, and the outlook for 2021 is promising for the industry.

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Throughout the pandemic, the alliance has also worked to support those in the industry who are struggling financially. According to Swanson, the non-profit has given out around $20,000 between 37 people and entities. You can donate to the fund here.

Conor McCue