Vail’s outdoor drinking rules may continue |

Vail’s outdoor drinking rules may continue

Colorado Legislature pondering bill to continue 2020 rules

The Colorado Legislature needs to pass changes to the state’s liquor regulations to continue to allow people to wander Vail’s resort villages with adult beverages in hand.
Scott N. Miller/

Dave Chapin is adamant: Nothing good has come from the COVID-19 pandemic. But some of the economic recovery efforts may result in changes to some of Colorado’s more antiquated liquor laws.

Chapin, Vail’s Mayor, has worked for decades in the town’s bar and restaurant business. Over the past few months, Chapin and others in town have expressed concern that some 2020 relaxations in the state’s liquor laws would expire July 1.

Those relaxations — created via an executive order from Gov. Jared Polis — included giving bars and restaurants the ability to provide delivery and to-go alcoholic drinks. Those new rules, along with “common consumption zones,” allowed people to buy a drink from an establishment, then wander around.

The new rules were a hit in Vail, which created consumption zones in the resort villages. And, Chapin said, there were very few problems. Since drinks had to be in cups identifying the establishment from which they were sold, few people just bought beer at a store and took them to town parks.

Chapin said in the past few months, officials from the state’s liquor enforcement division have reached out to municipalities, including Vail.

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“I thought it was very thoughtful and insightful that the liquor enforcement division reached out,” Chapin said. “They realized what a successful model this is.”

Legislation needed

But state departments can only enforce laws on the books. Changes to those laws have to come from the Colorado Legislature.

That’s where Rep. Dylan Roberts comes in. Roberts is one of four legislators co-sponsoring a bill that essentially extends the executive order for another five years. The sponsors are two Democrats — Roberts and Sen. Jeff Bridges — and two Republicans — Rep. Colin Larson and Sen. Kevin Priola.

The bill, House Bill 1027, has passed through three committee hearings and will be heard April 26 for the first time on the House floor.

As forwarded to the full House, the bill extends establishments’ ability to sell to-go and delivery drinks.

Roberts said he’ll introduce an amendment to the bill extending authority to create common consumption zones at the first floor hearing.

Encouraging progress so far

Roberts said this is the first bill on alcohol regulations he’s co-sponsored. He’s encouraged by the fact the bill has passed unanimously out of all three of its committee hearings.

“We’ve had to deal with a lot of complicated and antiquated laws,” Roberts said. It’s been a lot of work, and has required “very clear evidence” that last year’s rules were effective.

Roberts, who represents Eagle and Routt counties, said Steamboat Springs officials have told him essentially the same story he’s heard from Vail. The rules worked as intended, with few problems.

But, as with the 2020 rules, Chapin said he expects some limits in the new bill. If those limits are safety-related, that’s fine with Chapin.

Vail Town Council member Kim Langmaid said what she’s heard and seen in the last year have her in support of making 2020’s changes more permanent.

“Judging by the people who give input, they appreciate the liveliness and vitality it brings to (the villages),” Langmaid said.

Roberts said he believes the new bill can help bars and restaurants around the state.

Given the lingering effects from the pandemic, Roberts said it makes sense to bring a lot of activities outside, weather permitting. And, he added, he expects this bill to pass.

While he expects “robust” discussion on the House floor, “There’s bipartisan support,” Roberts said. “I expect this will pass.”

Four facts

The bill: House bill 21-1027.

What it does: Extends for five years a 2020 executive order allowing delivery and to-go alcoholic beverages.

Local sponsor: State Rep. Dylan Roberts of Avon.

Next step: The bill goes Monday to a floor debate in the Colorado House of Representatives.

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