Public health officials closed a restaurant in Castle Rock, Colo., Monday, one day after its owner hosted a Mother's Day event in which the entire dining room was open to seat customers — most of whom visited without face masks.

Hundreds of people visited the C&C Coffee and Kitchen on Sunday, with some praising its defiance in allowing people to eat breakfast burritos and drink coffee at tables, despite broad restrictions that limit restaurants to carryout service. Images from that morning show the restaurant had a line of people at the door, with a large crowd inside.

"I expected it to be busy. I never expected this," owner April Arellano told the Castle Rock News-Press on Sunday. "I'm so happy so many people came out to support the Constitution and stand up for what is right. We did our time. We did our two weeks. We did more than two weeks...and we were failing. We had to do something."

But on Monday, the local health department shut down the restaurant, saying its owners had ignored a warning not to open their dining room.

"The restaurant was ordered to close immediately" around midday Monday, the Tri-County Health Department said in a statement to NPR.

"It is disheartening that this restaurant has chosen to move ahead of the public orders and not even consider implementing best practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19," said Dr. John M. Douglas, Jr., the health department's executive director.

Even before local officials took action, C&C Coffee was being praised by some and slammed by others, depending on how people view the economic shutdowns that have been triggered by efforts to control the COVID-19 pandemic.

A video from inside the restaurant on Sunday shows a full morning rush, with a large, chattering crowd of families in the restaurant. As the camera sweeps through the packed dining room, only one person can be clearly seen wearing a protective mask.

But the bustling business — and the potential risk of creating a new nexus for more coronavirus cases — was something that shouldn't be done, Douglas countered. Anything else, he added, isn't fair to business owners who are following the "Safer at Home" restrictions.

If the C&C Coffee and Kitchen doesn't obey state restrictions, it could lose its license, the health department says. If restaurant agrees to follow the rules, the closure order will be lifted and it can resume carryout business.

Sunday's rogue opening prompted a flood of comments to the restaurant's Facebook page. Some congratulated Arellano for going against the government's orders, saying she was letting people decide if they wanted to gather in public.

"We had a lovely time and enjoyed the food yesterday!" one woman wrote. "Thank you for a breath of fresh air!"

Anyone who didn't agree, the restaurant's backers said, could simply stay away. But others disagreed vehemently, saying they would never patronize a restaurant that defies public health orders — and adding the potential dangers extend far beyond the people who opted to visit.

"So much selfish stupidity. If it was just themselves they were endangering I wouldn't care, but we're all connected. It's a pandemic and people are dying," a commenter wrote on member station Colorado Public Radio's Facebook post about the reopening.

Castle Rock, a small city about 30 miles south of Denver, is the county seat of Douglas County. It's in the jurisdiction of the Tri-County Health Department – which issued a reminder on Saturday, urging people not to form groups of more than 10 people on Mother's Day, and to keep everyone at least 6 feet apart.

All Colorado restaurants have been under tight restrictions since March 19, when the state health department's order closing bars, restaurants, gyms, theaters, and casinos took effect.

Arellano's decision to reopen her restaurant at full capacity came days after Polis extended the state's disaster emergency declaration through June 6. As the governor issued that order last week, he cited the threat of a disaster that could bring "widespread or severe damage, injury, or loss of life."

On Friday, Gov. Jared Polis said restaurants may be able to reopen by the time Memorial Day weekend arrives at the end of May, depending on the latest data about the coronavirus outbreak.

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