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Allegheny County launches COVID field response team to see if businesses following guidelines

As restaurants and bars find ways to navigate business during the coronavirus pandemic, Allegheny County announced it’s plans to launch a 10-member COVID-19 field response team to enforce mitigation orders.At The Vault Taproom on Pittsburgh’s South Side along East Carson Street, there are signs to remind customers to wear a mask and social distance. Assistant General Manager Jennifer Jones said enforcement should have been implemented from the first day of the county entering the green reopening phase.“Doing what is responsible versus doing what is convenient or profitable is what has landed us here,” she said. “You’ll notice that we’re one of maybe two or three restaurants that are currently open and that’s because honestly we were doing what we were supposed to be doing from the day we went green.”Watch the announcement in the video player above.The field team is scheduled to launch Thursday. Team members will check to see if a business is following the state’s universal masking order, recent orders for bars and restaurants, physical distancing and occupancy limits. A checklist from each visit will be reported to the county Health Department.”The business name, date of the visit and a copy of the checklist will be posted to the county’s website so that the public can see which businesses are working hard to keep everybody safe,” County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said.According to the county, the team will start with bars and restaurants with active complaints. If the business isn’t following safety measures, the team notifies the health department. If during an inspection a health inspector finds violations, the business faces the possibility of shutting down. “Boy, I don’t know how much more of this we can handle,” said Anthony DeNunzio, co-owner of DeNunzio’s in Monroeville. The county traced a majority of recent COVID-19 cases back to bars and restaurants.”We’re not looking to punish bars or restaurants, but we want everyone following the rules, and this team will be providing them with materials and resources that they need to operate safely,” Fitzgerald said. “We also want to inform the public of establishments that are following those requirements.”Team members will be looking for:Tables spaced far enough apartIndoor capacity capped at 25%Masks worn by staff and customersNo bar seatingNo smokingDine-in service ending at 11 p.m.Signs reminding customers of safety precautionsHowever, via Zoom DeNunzio said his business continues to comply but that people are at risk anywhere they go.“The fact that restaurants are being targeted, bars are being targeted,” he said. “I think you need to be safe everywhere you go.”Officials said the field team consists of 10 people who are contracting with the county.A complaint about an establishment may be submitted online or by calling 412-350-INFO (412-350-4636)

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PITTSBURGH —

As restaurants and bars find ways to navigate business during the coronavirus pandemic, Allegheny County announced it’s plans to launch a 10-member COVID-19 field response team to enforce mitigation orders.

At The Vault Taproom on Pittsburgh’s South Side along East Carson Street, there are signs to remind customers to wear a mask and social distance. Assistant General Manager Jennifer Jones said enforcement should have been implemented from the first day of the county entering the green reopening phase.

“Doing what is responsible versus doing what is convenient or profitable is what has landed us here,” she said. “You’ll notice that we’re one of maybe two or three restaurants that are currently open and that’s because honestly we were doing what we were supposed to be doing from the day we went green.”

Watch the announcement in the video player above.

The field team is scheduled to launch Thursday. Team members will check to see if a business is following the state’s universal masking order, recent orders for bars and restaurants, physical distancing and occupancy limits. A checklist from each visit will be reported to the county Health Department.

“The business name, date of the visit and a copy of the checklist will be posted to the county’s website so that the public can see which businesses are working hard to keep everybody safe,” County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said.

According to the county, the team will start with bars and restaurants with active complaints. If the business isn’t following safety measures, the team notifies the health department.

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If during an inspection a health inspector finds violations, the business faces the possibility of shutting down.

“Boy, I don’t know how much more of this we can handle,” said Anthony DeNunzio, co-owner of DeNunzio’s in Monroeville.

The county traced a majority of recent COVID-19 cases back to bars and restaurants.

“We’re not looking to punish bars or restaurants, but we want everyone following the rules, and this team will be providing them with materials and resources that they need to operate safely,” Fitzgerald said. “We also want to inform the public of establishments that are following those requirements.”

Team members will be looking for:

  • Tables spaced far enough apart
  • Indoor capacity capped at 25%
  • Masks worn by staff and customers
  • No bar seating
  • No smoking
  • Dine-in service ending at 11 p.m.
  • Signs reminding customers of safety precautions

However, via Zoom DeNunzio said his business continues to comply but that people are at risk anywhere they go.

“The fact that restaurants are being targeted, bars are being targeted,” he said. “I think you need to be safe everywhere you go.”

Officials said the field team consists of 10 people who are contracting with the county.

A complaint about an establishment may be submitted online or by calling 412-350-INFO (412-350-4636)

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