Department of Agriculture Releases COVID-19 Restaurant Enforcement Actions, December 14 – December 20

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HARRISBURG, PA — The Department of Agriculture released data related to COVID-19 restaurant enforcement actions from December 14 through December 20, 2020. The information is specific to COVID-19 mitigation requirements for restaurants, including masking of employees offering carry-out, delivery and curbside pick-up services, and reflect the temporary order prohibiting dine-in service from December 12, 2020 until January 4, 2021.

These numbers include actions taken during routine food safety inspections and inspections prompted by consumer complaints.

From December 14 through December 20, the department’s Bureau of Food Safety performed 493 inspections, 89 of which were complaint-driven. Of those, 84 were COVID-19 specific complaints. The department received 428 food facility COVID-19 related complaints, and 87 of those COVID-19 related complaints were referred to local and county health jurisdictions.

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In addition, the department issued 180 written warnings to restaurants reported to be violating the temporary dine-in prohibition. Of those 180 warnings, 40 restaurants were closed by order after they were confirmed to be open for dine-in service and refused to comply with the order.

The limited-time mitigation order includes:

  • All in-person indoor dining at businesses in the retail food services industry, including, but not limited to, bars, restaurants, breweries, wineries, distilleries, social clubs, and private catered events is prohibited.
  • Outdoor dining, take-out food service, and take-out alcohol sales are permitted and may continue, subject to any limitations or restrictions imposed by Pennsylvania law, or this or any other order issued by the Secretary of Health or by the governor.

A county-by-county breakdown of COVID-19 restaurant enforcement actions can be found on the Department of Agriculture’s website. The data will be updated weekly with data from the previous week.

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The Bureau of Food Safety has always operated with an education-first model, and always works to educate and correct issues on-site before taking official action. Businesses will receive a closure order if they are confirmed to be operating in violation of the order and unwilling to cease dine-in service while the inspector is present. If the restaurant continues to operate in any manner following closure order, the restaurant will be referred to the Department of Health for further legal action, including an action in Commonwealth Court to enjoin the continued operation of the restaurant in violation of the temporary order.

Consumers with general food safety complaints or concerns about non-compliance for COVID-19 mitigation can file a complaint online. COVID-19 mitigation restaurant enforcement actions will be released on a weekly basis.

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For more information about the Department of Agriculture’s COVID-19 response, visit agriculture.pa.gov/covid.

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