Health inspectors, police to monitor area restaurants this weekend for COVID-19 compliance

Health inspectors, police to monitor area restaurants this weekend for COVID-19 compliance

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The weekend is here and that means stepped up in enforcement from health inspectors and police when it comes to safety at area restaurants.

On a Friday evening in Richmond, people are ready to get out of the house. For many, a night on the town includes dining out.

“If you’re too close to me, I’m backing out,” Patricia Smith said, with her face mask ready to go.

“I think we all should be doing our part to keep us safe,” Laurie Coburn added.

The Virginia Department of Health says restaurant owners have a responsibility to do the same.

“We’ve got to take this seriously,” Dr. Danny Avula, director of Richmond and Henrico Health Districts, said.

Thursday, half a dozen Richmond restaurants had their business licenses suspended for not keeping large groups apart, employees not wearing masks, or because they were serving people from bars.

A day after that report, one of those restaurants, Good Tymes, posted on Facebook encouraging customers to come out for Happy Hour. That’s because the company says a health inspector returned to the company and cleared them to reopen after making changes.

“This industry isn’t for the faint of heart…The pandemic has presented new challenges...We are working daily to adhere to CDC and local guidelines,” owner Lachan Toran said in a statement.

Other restaurants should too. Health inspectors and police are hitting the streets this weekend with a watchful eye.

“It has been a wakeup call to several business owners who say, ‘I really need to do this differently,’ and that’s what we need,” Avula added.

“We’re trying to keep our businesses going,” Coburn added.

The health department wants restaurant employees to have a mask covering their nose and mouth, and customers sitting at bars is off-limits.

Here is a complete list of the state requirements for restaurants:

  • Post signage at the entrance that states that no one with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19, a positive diagnostic test for the virus that causes COVID-19 in the prior 10 days, or known exposure to a COVID-19 case in the prior 14 days, is permitted in the establishment.
  • Post signage at the entrance and at points of sale stating that patrons must wear a cloth face covering, except while eating and drinking, in accordance with Executive Order 63.
  • Post signage to provide public health reminders regarding physical distancing, gatherings, options for high-risk individuals, and staying home if sick (See samples at the bottom of this document). ü All parties must be separated by at least six feet, including in the bar area, (i.e., the six feet cannot include the space taken up by the seated guest). If tables are not movable, 10 seat parties at least six feet apart, including in the bar area. Spacing must also allow for physical distancing from areas outside of the facility’s control (i.e., provide physical distancing from persons on public sidewalks). All parties, whether seated together or across multiple tables, must be limited to 250 patrons or less.
  • Bar seats and congregating areas of restaurants must be closed to patrons except for through-traffic. Non-bar seating in the bar area (i.e., tables or counter seats that do not line up to a bar or food service area) may be used for customer seating as long as a minimum of six feet is provided between parties at tables.
  • Do not seat multiple parties at any one table unless marked with six foot divisions (such as with tape).
  • If live musicians are performing at an establishment, they must remain at least ten feet from patrons and staff. Karaoke must remain closed. ü Employees working in customer dining and service areas are required to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth, such as using CDC Use of Cloth Face Coverings guidance.
  • Buffets may be open for self-service, with continuous monitoring by trained staff required at food lines, and serving utensils must be changed hourly during peak meal times. Facilities must provide hand sanitizer at buffets, and employees and patrons must use barriers (e.g. gloves or deli tissue) when touching utensils.
  • Promote frequent and thorough hand washing, including by providing employees, customers, visitors, the general public, and other persons entering into the place of employment with a place to wash their hands. If soap and running water are not immediately available, provide hand sanitizers. Additional hand hygiene requirements for Virginia employees and employers can be found in the Department of Labor and Industry’s Emergency Temporary Standard. Further hand hygiene guidance can be found on the CDC website. A CDC training video is available here:
  • Perform routine cleaning and disinfection of frequently contacted surfaces including digital ordering devices, check presenters, self-service areas, tabletops, bathroom surfaces, and other common touch areas every 60 minutes during operation. Tabletops must be cleaned between patrons. ü Table resets must be done by an employee who has washed their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds just prior to reset activities.
  • Patrons may wait for takeout or for seated dining in the lobby area, but they must maintain six feet of physical distance between parties.
  • Prior to a shift and on days employees are scheduled to work, employees must screen themselves for symptoms prior to starting work. Employees should also self-monitor their symptoms by self-taking of temperature to check for fever and utilizing the questions provided in the VDH Interim Guidance for COVID-19 Daily Screening of Employees before reporting to work (a sample symptom monitoring log is available here). CDC considers a person to have a fever when they have a measured temperature of 100.4° F (38° C) or greater, feels warm to the touch, or gives a history of feeling feverish.
  • For employers with established occupational health programs, employers can consider measuring temperature and assessing symptoms of employees prior to starting work/before each shift. CDC considers a person to have a fever when they have a measured temperature of 100.4° F (38° C) or greater, feels warm to the touch, or gives a history of feeling feverish. If implementing health checks, conduct them safely and respectfully, and in accordance with any applicable privacy and records retention laws and regulations. Confidentiality should be respected.

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