Department of Agriculture Releases COVID-19 Restaurant Enforcement Actions, September 7-1

Department of Agriculture Releases COVID-19 Restaurant Enforcement Actions, September 7-1

HARRISBURG, PA — The Department of Agriculture released data related to COVID-19 restaurant enforcement actions from September 7 through September 13, 2020. The information is specific to COVID-19 mitigation requirements for restaurants including social distancing, masking, and occupancy limits.

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

From September 7 through September 13, the Bureau of Food Safety performed 520 total inspections, 27 of which were complaint-driven, 12 were COVID-19 specific complaints. The bureau distributed 36 COVID-19 complaint-driven educational letters.

Five COVID-19 related complaints were referred to local and county health jurisdictions.   Two formal Warning Letters were issued.

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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Among other requirements, all businesses in the restaurant and retail foodservice industry authorized to conduct in-person activities are mandated to:

  • Require all customers to wear a mask while entering, exiting, or otherwise traveling through the restaurant or retail foodservice business (mask may be removed while seated).
  • Employees are required to wear masks at all times.
  • Provide at least six feet between parties at tables or physical barriers between customers where booths are arranged back to back.
  • Ensure maximum occupancy limits for indoor and outdoor areas are posted and enforced.

The Bureau of Food Safety has always operated with an education-first model, and always works to educate and correct on-site before taking official action. Businesses unwilling to correct on-site will first receive a warning letter, followed by monetary citations ranging from $25 to $300 per offense. Following an initial warning, food safety inspectors will follow up with unannounced inspections to ensure compliance or issue citations as necessary.

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

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

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