AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – It’s a brand-new day for Colorado; COVID restrictions that have been in place for 14 months are gone for most of the Front Range. Six Colorado counties, including Denver, Jefferson and Arapahoe moved to level clear Sunday.  That means businesses can now operate 100% capacity with no social distancing.

“Oh yeah today was very busy,” Thiago Avona, Aroma Do Brazil owner, said.

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It’s the opposite of what it was like for him when he first started last year in March.

“So we had our final walkthrough with the health department 11:30 a.m., noon that day, and by 3 p.m. the government closed down,” Marcia Avona, co-owner recalled.

Thiago and his wife, Marcia, had dreamed of opening up a restaurant after running a food truck for several years.

“Because the fridge was too hot,  or the weather was too hot or too cold, it was complicated, we get cancellations a lot,” Marcia explained.

Their hope was crushed by COVID-19.

“And we looked at each other and said ‘What do we do now?'” Marcia asked.

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That’s what many businesses were wondering, too.  The Avonas actually had to run their food truck in front of their Aurora business at the start of the shutdown to keep operations running.

“I put it on our media, Instagram,  Facebook, Aroma Brazilian Cuisine, it’s in this post, and people are just calling me ‘What is Iliff and Havana?’ So worried because we had to put everything on hold, our cars, our mortgage and we just kept the lease for the restaurant,” Marcia told CBS4.

The restaurant later opened at 25% and then gradually capacity restrictions loosened.  The Avonas also added delivery service.

“Door Dash, Uber eats, it helped us a lot in the beginning,” Thiago Avona added.

Finally Aroma Do Brazil opened up to full capacity as Arapahoe County entered level clear.

“It’s clear, but with just a little rules,” Thiago saida.

The change is now a little taste of life pre-pandemic, and a breath of relief. Kind of…

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“Today I didn’t take any breaks,” he remembered.

Jacqueline Quynh