Thomas Jefferson Health District says area restaurants complying with COVID guidelines

Thomas Jefferson Health District says area restaurants complying with COVID guidelines
2 people eat dinner at Citizen Burger Bar in downtown Charlottesville. The two booths next to them are intentionally empty. (Source: WVIR)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Eating out went from being a regular occurrence, to almost non-existent. Now, it’s once again starting to become a part of life for many. But are restaurants in the Charlottesville area sticking to the COVID-19 safety protocols?

It’s been about two months since Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said restaurants not complying with COVID orders could lose their license.

“The good news is that we have not had to suspend any permits related to that," said Eric Myers, the environmental health supervisor at the Thomas Jefferson Health District. "We would only be going to the step of suspension if there were egregious violations, and there’s been tons of warning, and lack of cooperation.”

Myers says these guidelines, which include reduced capacity and making sure tables are at least six-feet apart, were hard on restaurants early in the pandemic, but they’ve since adapted.

“My impression locally, especially Charlottesville and Albemarle and some of our surrounding counties as time goes on, more and more compliance is occurring,” he said. "It’s becoming, I guess you’d say, the new normal.”

Some of the complaints that have been called-in about restaurants have been because some kitchen workers are not wearing face coverings. That’s allowed under the emergency order.

“The health department would still recommend that they wear the face covering, if at all possible,” Myers said.

TJHD met with some bars on The Corner near the University of Virginia before the semester started. Myers said it’s critical to get the message to students that they have a role to play in slowing the spread.

“A 25-year-old, 24-year-old, might be asymptomatic or have a slight effect," he said. "But they may be the link that gets to someone else that gets to a nursing home that ends in tragedy.”

While most restaurants in Virginia can seat as many people as possible as long as they’re six feet apart, Albemarle County and Charlottesville have set capacity at 50 percent for indoor dining.

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