By Kevin Beaty, Denverite | It’s 8 o’clock on a Friday night in LoDo, and Tyler Sondag has a problem. Almost 30 people have been following him through Denver’s nightlife neighborhood to what should be the second stop on his Denver Pub Crawl. But the guy at Sports Column’s door says they can’t come in. There’s a Wisconsin game on, and the bar has already filled to the 50 percent capacity allowed by the state’s pandemic restrictions.
Despite the cold, Sondag sports a fedora, a tropical button-up and sandals. The bright yellow umbrella he holds above his head cements his role as tour guide. The getup complements the air of confidence he carries with him: He will figure this out.
He reroutes his crawlers to the third spot on his itinerary. But when they arrive, the folks at the Giggling Grizzly on 20th Street say they only have space for 15.
“We’re very sorry for this,” he tells the crowd as a Justin Timberlake song bumps above him. “This has literally never happened in 9 months in running this.”
Less than a week later, Mayor Hancock announced bars and restaurants can only allow 25 percent of their max capacities inside, making Sondag’s job even tougher. Meanwhile, cases in Denver and Colorado have grown to levels unseen since the pandemic began.
That Friday night, many of Sondag’s customers knew going out posed risks, but nearly everyone said they just needed a night that felt normal. Plus, Sondag, his crawlers and their bartenders trust the city and state rules that dictate their interactions.
Elizabeth Ojo, who traveled from Staten Island to celebrate her cousin’s birthday, is a certified nursing assistant who saw the brunt of New York City’s infections up close. She’s mostly just gone to work and stayed home since then. She was excited when she found the pub crawl recommended on her Airbnb app.
“I figured if they were still doing this, they’re probably doing it in the most safest way possible,” she said. “Corona ruined most of my year, and I said I needed at least one trip.”
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