State expands at-home COVID-19 testing to restaurant workers, those in industry optimistic for future

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DENVER — On Tuesday, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced the state’s at-home COVID-19 testing system would be expanded to restaurant workers.

The announcement comes as the state prepares for more mass vaccine clinics, while also planning to shut down one of the largest testing sites in Adams County.

The anticipated changes bring a growing sense of optimism for some that Colorado is turning a corner in the pandemic.

“My hope obviously is that we continue on this trend,” said Chef Linda Hampsten Fox of The Bindery. “I do have various employees calling out [sick] that they have a headache and they’re afraid — they don’t want to come to work if it’s something more, so I think this [at-home testing] will be very helpful.”

Hampsten Fox said she also hoped future public health orders would allow for additional seating inside establishments.

“That’s partially why we’re all capturing outdoor square footage, to get more space so that we can put some more tables out there and try to get those numbers back up to a normal service,” Hampsten Fox said. “Until you can move more tables back into a restaurant, you are still quite limited in making your business what it was before.”

Sonia Riggs, CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association, said in a press release:

“Restaurants’ top priority has always been keeping guests safe and healthy. We are thrilled that this resource will be available to our industry as an additional means to that end. We hope the Binax At-Home program, in combination with vaccine distribution to restaurant workers, can help create a clear path to safely welcoming Colorado’s communities back into restaurants at full capacity.”

Food service employees can enroll in the program here. Once applicants are approved, they’ll receive instructions on how to order the kits for free. For more information on at-home testing, visit here.