Department of Agriculture Releases COVID-19 Restaurant Enforcement Actions, January 11 – January 17

Restaurant COVIDImage via Pixabay

HARRISBURG, PA — The Department of Agriculture has released data related to COVID-19 restaurant enforcement actions from January 11, 2021 through January 17, 2021. The information is specific to COVID-19 mitigation requirements for restaurants, including masking of employees offering carry-out, delivery and curbside pick-up services.

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

From January 11, 2021 through January 17, 2021, the department’s Bureau of Food Safety performed 720 inspections, 114 of which were complaint-driven, with 107 of those COVID specific complaints. The department received 220 food facility COVID-19 related complaints, and 138 of those complaints were referred to local and county health jurisdictions.

Inspectors closed 15 restaurants by order after each was confirmed to be operating in violation of the Order of the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health for Mitigation and Enforcement and the Order of the Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for Mitigation, Enforcement, and Immunity Protections issued on November 23, 2020 and refused to make corrections while the inspector was present. Three facilities were permitted to reopen after a re-inspection verified compliance.

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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.

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.

On January 4, 2021, the temporary order expired. Restrictions in place prior to December 12, 2020 resumed, including the following measures in restaurants:

  • Self-certified restaurants may open at 50 percent capacity for indoor dining. Restaurants that have not self-certified are at 25 percent capacity for indoor dining,
  • On-premises alcohol consumption prohibited unless part of a meal; cocktails-to-go and carryout beverages are allowed, and
  • Serving alcohol for on-site consumption must end at 11:00 PM., and all alcoholic beverages must be removed from patrons by midnight.
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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 COVID-19 mitigation orders and are unwilling to comply while the inspector is present. If the restaurant continues to operate in any manner following a 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 order.

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

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