PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Allegheny County’s new COVID-19 Field Response Team launched today. The team is responsible for spot-checking restaurants and other businesses to see if owners and employees are following current regulations.
The county contracted out this COVID response team, and they’re being very protective of them — not saying who they are or where they’re going.READ MORE: Crews On The Scene Of Two-Alarm Fire On Dawson Street In Wall Borough
But they were on Forbes Avenue downtown Thursday. And for the most part, it was uneventful.
It was business as usual at Big Daddy’s convenience store downtown just moments after the COVID response team stopped by.
“No violations. No complaints,” says Jennifer Busia, who operates Big Daddy’s.
She says she was ok with the surprise inspection, and she’s making sure her place is COVID safe.
“That’s for everybody’s safety,” she says. “I see why. Everybody needs safety.”
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Next door at the Burger King: another surprise visit. But again, no big problems.
“They caught us by surprise, but I’m just glad that we were following procedure like we were supposed to,” says manager Saleeva Chaney.
The Burger King says they’re doing the right things: shields, sanitizing and social distancing. And don’t forget the masks.
“We have to wear our masks at all times,” says Chaney. “Especially when we’re waiting on customers. We have to make customers wear a mask when they come in.”
But back at Big Daddy’s, they came close to a violation when the inspectors maxed out the occupancy limit.
“I have four people. Well, there’s four of them. So that means none of my customers can come in at that time. So that’s when I said, ‘you need to hurry up!” They walked out,” says Busia, laughing.MORE NEWS: Pennsylvania Workers Quitting Their Jobs At The Lowest Rate In The U.S.
The Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association CEO released a statement about the team, saying:
“The restaurant industry has been asking for increased enforcement against those operators who, while permitted to reopen and allow guests, have repeatedly disregarded the guidelines set in place by state and local agencies. These bad actors are jeopardizing the health of their employees and communities, as well as the livelihoods of the businesses and employees who have complied with these orders. We commend Allegheny County Executive, Rich Fitzgerald and Director of the Allegheny County Health Department, Dr. Debra Bogen for listening to our request and taking action by stepping up enforcement of the restaurant guidelines through the newly formed COVID-19 Response Task Force in Allegheny County.
“We have seen recently that rules without enforcement have only led to more stringent rules, punishing those operators already in compliance without deterring non-compliant operators from carrying on with their negligent behavior. With the county rolling out its program by first tackling operations that currently have open complaints and including education as part of the mitigation strategy, our hope is that this program allows restaurants to quickly return to at least 50% occupancy.”