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LCB issues 5 new COVID-19 regulation citations, 18 warnings to restaurants

Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania State Police Liquor Control Enforcement Officers visited 1,194 licensed liquor establishments from Monday, August 10 through Tuesday, August 11 to ensure businesses are abiding by COVID-19 mitigation requirements that include social distancing, masking, and other health and safety requirements of the liquor code.

Liquor Control Enforcement Officers issued five notices of violation and 18 warnings for failing to follow COVID-19 requirements.

There were 2 warnings in the Punxsutawney area during that time. The majority of the warnings are coming from Pittsburgh.

As mandated by the liquor code, a notice of violation precedes the issuance of an administrative citation, which is civil in nature, and is intended to provide licensed liquor establishments notification of the nature of violation(s) discovered. The investigation remains open during this period, pending review by the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement (BLCE). Because the investigation is ongoing, names of establishments issued a notice of violation will not be released at this time. Each BLCE district office posts a monthly public information release that includes details on citations issued by that office.

Compliance checks are unannounced and can occur anywhere in the commonwealth, although the focus is on areas experiencing higher coronavirus transmission rates. Among other requirements, all businesses and employees in the restaurant and retail food service industry authorized to conduct in-person activities are mandated to:

  • Require all customers to wear masks while entering, exiting or otherwise traveling throughout the restaurant or retail food service business (face masks may be removed while seated). Further, employees are required to wear masks at all times.
  • Provide at least six 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.
Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement | August 10-11, 2020
 
ENFORCEMENT OFFICE TOTAL LICENSEE CHECKS WARNINGS RELATED TO COVID-19 MITIGATION EFFORTS NOTICES OF VIOLATION RELATED TO COVID-19 MITIGATION EFFORTS
1-Philadelphia 195 0 1
2-Wilkes-Barre 137 0 1
3-Harrisburg 90 3 1
4-Pittsburgh 302 4 0
5-Altoona 114 2 2
6-Williamsport 82 1 0
7-Punxsutawney 56 2 0
8-Erie 76 2 0
9-Allentown 142 4 0
TOTALS 1,194 18 5

 

Violators may face administrative citation by the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement. Continued violations put an establishment’s liquor license at risk, either through the citation process or upon application for renewal. More information is available on the enforcement page of the state police COVID-19 portal.

Complaints regarding licensees not complying with COVID-19 mitigation mandates may be directed to the BLCE at 1-800-932-0602 or reported through the BLCE’s online complaint form.

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Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Agriculture released data related to COVID-19 restaurant enforcement actions from August 3 through August 9, 2020. The information is specific to COVID-19 mitigation requirements for restaurants including social distancing, masking, and occupancy limits.

These numbers include actions taken during routine food safety inspections and inspections prompted by consumer complaints.

From August 3 through August 9, the Bureau of Food Safety performed 624 total routine inspections, 22 of which were complaint-driven, four were COVID-19 specific complaints. The bureau distributed 77 COVID-19 complaint-driven educational letters. Ten COVID-19 related complaints were referred to local and county health jurisdictions.

A county by county breakdown of COVID-19 restaurant enforcement actions can be found on the Department of Agriculture’s website. The data will be updated weekly, with data from the previous week.

Among other requirements, all businesses in the restaurant and retail food service industry 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).
  • Employees are required to wear masks at all times.
  • Provide at least six 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 always operated with an education-first model, and always works to educate and correct on-site before taking official action. Businesses unwilling to correct on-site will first receive a warning letter, followed by monetary citations ranging from $100 to $300 per offense. Following an initial warning, food safety inspectors will follow up with unannounced inspections to ensure compliance or issue citations as necessary.

Consumers with general food safety complaints or concerns about non-compliance for COVID-19 mitigation can file a report online. COVID-19 mitigation restaurant enforcement actions will be released on a weekly basis.

For more information about the Department of Agriculture’s COVID-19 response, visit agriculture.pa.gov/covid.