The Health Department is 'strongly encouraging' organizations to offer take-out through phone and online orders so as to limit crowding.By Paul Martino

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Fish fry season is nearly here and along with the usual food safety requirements, the Allegheny County Health Department is reminding churches and organizations that they must also follow COVID-19 safety guidelines that restaurants follow from the state.

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Those safety guidelines include restricting dining capacity, social distancing requirements, face mask requirements, following alcohol consumption times, and more.

Here is more details from the state:

• Restricting indoor dining capacity to 50% if a facility has completed the state’s self-certification process or 25% if it has not;
• Requiring any outdoor seating area to have two open sides;
• Requiring employees wear face coverings at all times and requiring customers wear face coverings except when seated at their own tables;
• Spacing parties at least six (6) feet apart and prohibiting bar or counter seating, and
• Only serving alcohol with food and ending alcohol sales by 11:00 pm and alcohol consumption by 12 a.m.

This Lenten season, the Health Department says they are “strongly encouraging” organizations to offer take-out through phone and online orders so as to limit crowding.

In addition, the Health Department says fish fry sponsors must gain a valid health permit by Friday, Feb. 12. To request a temporary permit, organizations can fill out the application on the Heath Department’s website here. There is a $47 fee.

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The application contains a checklist for applicants that includes a COVID-19 Prevention Checklist intended to help fish fries operate in accordance with required and suggested safety protocols. This checklist is a requirement, says the Health Department.

“It’s a great Pittsburgh tradition to have the fish frys,” said Fr. Timothy Deely of Assumption Catholic Church. “For us, the proceeds go to the church and a lot of our ministries. We have a lot of ministries to the poor in the area.

Assumption Catholic Church in Bellevue faces the same problem all other fish frys face. So the church will only be doing takeout.

“With COVID, there’s an extra set of precautions. Everyone will be six feet apart, masks, temperature checks for all the workers, for anyone coming in,” said Fr. Deely.

Click here for the Allegheny County Health Department’s Fish Fry Food Safety Checklist.

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Any organizations in need of additional information can contact the Health Department at 412-578-8044.