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Department of Agriculture Releases COVID-19 Restaurant Enforcement Actions, January 4 – January 10

01/13/2021

Harrisburg, PA - The Department of Agriculture today released data related to COVID-19 restaurant enforcement actions from January 4, 2021 through January 10, 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 4, 2021 through January 10, 2021, the department’s Bureau of Food Safety performed 729 inspections, 130 of which were following up on COVID-specific complaints. The department received 171 food facility COVID-19 related complaints, and 90 of those complaints were referred to local and county health jurisdictions.

Inspectors closed 24 restaurants by order after each was confirmed to be operating in violation of the Secretary of Health and Governor’s COVID mitigation orders and management refused to make corrections while the inspector was present. Two restaurants later requested new inspections and were permitted to reopen after inspectors confirmed they were complying with the orders.

On January 6, 2021, the Department of Health, represented by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, petitioned Commonwealth Court seeking injunctions against 28 restaurants that continued to offer dine-in services after receiving the bureau’s closure order during the December 12 – January 4 limited time mitigation orders.

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 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.

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.

The Wolf Administration offers opportunities for Pennsylvanians to explore restaurants that are operating safely and encourages Pennsylvanians to continue to support local eateries through the dining options that are now available to them.

If choosing to dine out, consumers can first go online to explore restaurants that are Open & Certified using the searchable online listing of Open & Certified restaurants. Consumers can add to their sense of safety and confidence for in-person dining by using the newly launched COVID Inspection Dashboard for restaurants’ current status on both food and safety inspection reports.

Consumers can also support restaurants from the comfort of their home by ordering take-out or delivery. Visit the CarryoutPA website, which offers a comprehensive list of restaurants offering takeout, curbside, or delivery services.

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

MEDIA CONTACT: Shannon Powers - shpowers@pa.gov

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