Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture agents visited Indiana County restaurants for three complaint-driven inspections, one of which was COVID-19-related, amid 30 inspections during the past month.
No virus-related warnings or citations were issued to those eateries as a result of the inspections, reported for each week of August on the PDA website.
The department said there were 624 inspections statewide during the week of Aug. 24-30, 39 of which were complaint-driven, while 13 were COVID-19-specific complaints. Indiana County establishments were subject to eight inspections that week, two of which were complaint-driven.
The department said its Bureau of Food Safety distributed 74 COVID-19 complaint-driven educational letters that week.
After that, PDA officials said, seven virus-related complaints were referred to local and county health jurisdictions; five formal warning letters were issued, and two citations were filed.
For the week of Aug. 17-23, there were eight inspections in Indiana County, one of which did involve COVID-19 complaints.
There were two inspections in the week of Aug. 10-16 and 10 in the week of Aug. 3-9, none of which were complaint-driven.
The department has been focused on mitigation requirements for restaurants including social distancing, masking and occupancy limits.
PDA said all businesses in the restaurant and retail food service industry that are 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 food service business (mask may be removed while seated).
• Require employees to wear masks at all times.
• Provide at least 6 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 a policy of first handing out warning letters, then issuing citations ranging from $25 to $300 per offense.
Consumers with general food safety complaints or concerns about non-compliance for COVID-19 mitigation can file a report online. More information about the inspection process is available at agriculture.pa.gov/covid.