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Health officials enforce reopening compliance at King County restaurants

Long lines formed for the new drive-through service at the Canlis restaurant on March 16, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Public Health – Seattle & King County are conducting spot checks for compliance with the state’s health guidance at restaurants in an expanded effort to educate and enforce reopening requirements. If the guidance is not met after the restaurant has been informed and educated on proper precautions, health officials will close establishments until modifications are made.

Reopening requirements for food establishments under the governor’s Safe Start plan include:

  • Creating a customer flow that allows for at least 6 feet of social distancing
  • Requiring face coverings for all customers and employees
  • Limiting indoor and outdoor seating occupancy
  • Taking other protective measures, such as surface cleaning and employee health screening

Public Health is also highlighting restaurants that are working hard to keep customers, employees, and the community safe during the ongoing pandemic.

In the Public Health Insider’s Friday blog post, Elliott Bay Brewing in Lake City and Thai One On, also in Lake City, were commended for their work in following guidance that helps to reduce the risk and spread of COVID-19, and providing a safe dining experience for customers and employees.

“We know that COVID-19 spreads when people come in close contact with one another, such as sitting too close together at restaurants,” said Patty Hayes, Director of Public Health – Seattle & King County. “With the rise in cases, there is an even greater urgency to ensure we are working with restaurants to reduce the risks of these potential exposures.”

Rate of new COVID-19 cases in Washington now exceeds March peak

Based on contract tracing and restaurant inspections, the increasing case number in King County has been caused in part by gatherings in public places, which could include restaurants and food establishments.

“We are so fortunate to have such vibrant restaurants in our area and restaurant owners who have shown great care for their employees and customers in reducing risks of exposure to COVID-19,” Hayes said. “Just this past weekend, Public Health conducted spot checks at restaurants to provide education and ensure Safe Start requirements are being followed.”

Some of the notes from the environmental health staff that made Elliott Bay Brewing stand out included clear, informative signage, distance markings on the floor, available hand sanitizer, and masks.

Thai One On has rearranged furniture to allow for ample physical distancing, and emphasized the importance of wearing masks, even prior to the statewide mandate.

Gov. Inslee’s ‘no mask, no service’ mandate goes into effect

According to the most recent mandate from the governor, businesses across the state of Washington are not allowed to serve a customer who is not wearing a mask. Additionally, masks or cloth face coverings of some kind are required in all public, indoor spaces, and outdoors when maintaining six feet of distance from others is difficult.

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