By Conor McCue

BROOMFIELD, Colo. (CBS4) – Beginning Monday, a handful of businesses in Broomfield will be allowed to welcome more customers than they have in months. For some, the change will be the difference between operating in the red or in the black.

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It’s all because of the city and county’s version of a 5 Star Certification Program called “Back to Business.” While the county remains at Level Orange, these businesses will be allowed to operate at Level Yellow, which means 50% capacity indoors.

While a number of counties in Level Orange have these programs in place, not all can allow businesses to operate in Level Yellow just yet. To do so, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment requires a county sustain a 7-day trend of COVID metrics within Level Orange, and many counties’ metrics remain in Level Red.

“Our hearts go out to these businesses and what they’ve had to do to survive for the last 10 months,” said Broomfield Mayor Pat Quinn.

Scalzotto Italian Restaurant is one of 22 businesses in Broomfield, 16 of which are restaurants, that will be able to operate at 50% capacity on Monday. The switch will immediately mean less reliance on takeout, which before the pandemic was only about 10% of sales.

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When owners, Tonia and Giancarlo Scalzotto, got word of the Back to Business program they applied right away. This week, they passed an inspection and received their certification.

“This was a no brainer for us,” Tonia Scalzotto said.

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To operate within the program’s rules, the couple has updated the ventilation system at the restaurant, implemented a reservation-only system, and participates in contact tracing of customers, along with other health precautions.

This past week, they operated at 25% capacity, like businesses in most of the state.

“It makes total sense to me,” said Quinn. “They get to operate at a larger capacity and have a chance to survive, and we’re assuring the public through inspections that they’re following the rules.”

Not everyone is lining up to join the program though. Steve Bauer plans to keep his bar, the North Side Tavern, closed for now. He’d prefer to open when the county is actually in Level Yellow and hopes to continue to pay staff with any money he receives in the next round of Paycheck Protection Program funding.

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“The Back to Business is a great program and I think the intention is great,” Bauer said. “But I feel kind of weird asking people if they’re from the same household, their phone number, tracking when they got here and when they left.”

(credit: CBS)

Tonia Scalzotto said the move to Level Yellow means bringing back almost all of her furloughed staff, as well as other immediate benefits.

“It gives us a glimmer of profitability and allows us to pay our staff, pay our expenses, and all of that,” She said.

With 50% inside, and a newly improved outdoor setup, they’ll be as close to full capacity as they’ve been in months.

“We’re going to feel not-necessarily normal, but it’s going to get us through the winter and it’s going to help us survive,” Scalzotto said.

Along with restaurants, gyms, a salon, and movie theater have passed inspections for the Back to Business program. You can find a list of all certified businesses as well as information on applying here.

Conor McCue