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No more walking and drinking in Vail Village

New state law, however, still allows sealed containers of to-go drinks

Vail Village has shut down most of the common consumption areas that allowed people to wander the village with alcoholic beverages in hand.
Scott N. Miller/Daily file photo

Vail Village’s common consumption areas have gone away, except for special events. But to-go alcohol will continue for at least the next four years.

The Colorado legislature’s passage last week of House Bill 1027 codifies state liquor code changes made in summer 2020 via an executive order from Gov. Jared Polis. That order, issued to provide some economic relief to bars and restaurants, allowed those establishments to sell to-go alcoholic beverages.

The new law extends that portion of the order for another four years.



That bill helped Vail and other communities establish “common consumption areas.” Those areas allowed people to wander, drinks in hand, in specific areas.

Beaver Creek has had something similar for a few years.

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Vail has now ended common consumption area in Vail Village.

State law doesn’t allow common consumption areas in places that also have motor vehicle right of way. Much of Vail Village has at least some right of way for cars, buses and delivery vehicles. Lionshead has far more restricted vehicle access, so those common consumption areas will continue unchanged.

Vail Town Manager Scott Robson said there were no safety issues between cars and pedestrians in summer 2020. Still, he said, that prohibition is an attempt to avoid liability problems. Since Vail and other communities are governed by state liquor rules, that means Vail Village’s common consumption areas have to shut down.

“We lobbied our elected officials,” Robson said. “But it’s a difficult issue for legislators to change — no one wants the safety issues that go with alcohol in vehicular rights of way.”

Robson said there are a handful of exceptions to the renewed rules. Open containers will still be allowed in town parks near Vail Village, as well as the pedestrian promenade along Gore Creek.

That means a customer can leave a business with a sealed drink, then enjoy it when arriving at a park or the customer’s hotel or condo.

“I think everyone agrees that the atmosphere in Vail Village last summer was great, largely due to the common consumption areas,” 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirits founder Ryan Thompson said. “People were in great moods after having quarantined, and it was great to see people outdoors enjoying themselves.”

Thompson added he hoped the common consumption areas could continue. But, he added, the 10th Mountain tasting room will have a couple of tables and chairs outside the storefront.

Robson said that’s going to continue. Robson said in talking with Vail Village businesses and members of the Vail Economic Advisory Council, many people found a lot of benefits in expanding patio seating into town right of way.

“We can, and will, continue to allow that,” Robson said, adding there are plans to provide a lot of in-village music and other entertainment.

Thompson said he’s cautiously optimistic about both the modified rules and the prospects for a successful summer.


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