McLean County Halts Surprise Restaurant Inspections During COVID-19 | WGLT

McLean County Halts Surprise Restaurant Inspections During COVID-19

Apr 8, 2020

McLean County health inspectors are no longer showing up unannounced at restaurants to limit the potential spread of COVID-19.

Tom Anderson, the county health department's environmental health director, said that head start doesn’t mean a free pass and typically doesn't conceal problems. 

"In the hour or two when they are given notice that doesn’t give them a lot of time with their decreased staff, so we are seeing things the same as usual,” Anderson said.

But Anderson added restaurants generally have been practicing social distancing during the pandemic.

“Fortunately our observations have been with food establishments in McLean County, everyone in the food establishment industry is doing their best to protect their employees and protect the customers,” he said.

Gov. JB Prtizker’s stay-at-home order gives county health departments the authority to shut down or suspend the permit for any restaurant that doesn’t comply with social-distancing guidelines.

Anderson said fast food restaurants have been able to adapt to all delivery and curbside service more easily because they already offered drive-thru service.

“There’s very minimal contact with the customer,” he said, adding some restaurants have asked if they can allow customers to wait inside. He said the health department discourages that because it increases the potential that a crowd of people could congregate, thereby violating social-distancing guidelines.

Anderson said the biggest complaint he hears from the public is restaurant workers not wearing masks. They aren't required to wear masks, but Anderson said the health department will note that on their inspection report.

Anderson said COVID-19 hasn’t impacted how inspections are scored or how many the department does.

He said the department currently has six restaurant sanitarians on staff who inspect each food establishment at least once a year, depending on their risk level. Higher-risk establishments are inspected up to four times annually.

The McLean County Health Department posts all restaurant inspections on its website.

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