Manager at Denver business says a few bad customers could ruin fun for everyone

Posted at 11:20 PM, Oct 05, 2020

DENVER — The novel coronavirus limited gatherings and family fun activities across Colorado, and now a manager at a mini-golf business is pleading with the public to follow the current health orders to help prevent a future shutdown.

Kete Belonigen is an event sales manager at Urban Putt. She fears people failing to follow the mask order at the mini-golf course may ruin it for everyone. It's why she says they're cracking down.

Signs reading, "Please wear a mask when golfing" hang throughout Urban Putt, but Belonigen says some people blatantly ignore the requirement.

"Sometimes I start to walk up and I hear, 'Oh here she comes, here she comes, mask,' Belonigen said. "I need them to wear their mask even if I'm not there."

She says 18 to 22 year olds and customers in their 50s can't seem to keep their mask on.

On Saturday, a manager asked a group of people to leave. Belonigen says the manager later noticed one of the members kicked out left a one-star review on Google.

"I don't want to have to tell people to keep their masks on, I want them gone too, but right now this is what we have to do to survive, for our business to survive, for our staff to keep their jobs, for me to keep my job," Belonigen said.

Reservations are also under scrutiny.

"A couple of weeks ago, we had a fraternity in CU Boulder book an event," Belonigen said.

The reservation at Urban Putt was made for Sept. 18. She says her research showed the customer might be a member or have ties to the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. Just days earlier, on September 15, the City of Boulder issued a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine order for residents at 1125 10th Street, a house on The Hill, which serves as an annex for the Kappa Sigma Fraternity.

Concerned about the possible connection to the fraternity and the potential health threat to Denver customers, Belonigen canceled the reservation.

"We said, 'No, we can't put our staff at risk,'" she said. "We can't put our business risk."

She says while staff can't verify where every customer comes from, she's worried people prohibited from gathering in Boulder are now seeking refuge in Denver businesses.

"Our bartender overheard people talking (at the bar) about 'escaping the lockdown in Boulder,'" Belonigen said.

On September 24, Boulder County Public Health implemented an order prohibiting 18 to 22 year olds from gathering in any group size and later eased the restriction to no more than two people with exceptions.

Back in August, an anonymous person filed a complaint against Urban Putt.

The complaint released by the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE) reads that staff failed to require masks and there was no social distancing.

Belonigen says the health department paid them a visit and offered advice to make improvements.

Urban Putt is operating at a limited capacity.

"Right now, we are in survival mode," said Belonigen.

It's why, she says, it's vital that people keep their masks on to help prevent a future shutdown that does not guarantee a full recovery.

"We want you here, we want you to come in here and have a good time, but we also want everybody to be really safe while they're here," Belonigen said.