Cuyahoga County Board Of Health Prepared To Enforce New Business Guidelines!

FEATURED PHOTO: CUYAHOGA COUNTY BOARD OF HEALTH COMMISSIONER TERRY ALLAN

Ideastream.org, By Taylor Haggerty, Posted May 12th 2020

The Cuyahoga County Board of Health is asking residents to familiarize themselves with new rules and guidelines before going out as Ohio’s restaurants, salons and retailers prepare to reopen this Friday.

The board is responsible for enforcing the new social distancing and sanitization rules, which include spacing tables appropriately, limiting the number of people in a facility and requiring personal protective equipment (PPE) for some employees.

Local enforcement of those guidelines is in line with the board of health’s normal operations, said Public Information Officer Kevin Brennan.

“We have several people on staff who are field-based food sanitarians and inspectors,” Brennan said. “When it comes to those types of locations, I think we will be well-suited to follow up.”

Salons and retail will be new territory for the health department, Brennan said, but employees are prepared to address those areas as well.

The department expects to have proper staffing in place by next week to meet the need for inspections and follow-up, Brennan said. When the state ordered non-essential businesses to close, he said, the board rearranged staff to cover enforcement of the governor’s order.

“We pulled our staff from other programs that were field-based programs to respond to this, and I think we’ll do the same thing here,” Brennan said.

Anyone with concerns can call their local board of health to report violations.

“Sometimes when we get complaints, it’s not always in line with what the mandates are indicating,” Brennan said. “We just want the people who are calling us to register a complaint to fully understand just what the mandates and the guidelines are.”

Response times could vary based on the number of calls the department receives, he said.

“I don’t think it will turn into a situation where we will be unable to deal with it,” said Brennan, who is already anticipating the most common complaints will be about having enough physical space.

One Cleveland City Council member is proposing to help restaurants with potential spacing issues by shutting down some streets to cars, allowing for more room on outdoor patios.

Councilman Kerry McCormack said several parts of his ward could be good contenders, including Ohio City, Tremont, the Warehouse District and areas around the stadiums.

“The purpose of this is to support our local restaurants at a time when they have already taken a blow from this pandemic,” he said. “And then when they reopen, they’re going to have a lot of different regulations on how they need to operate.”

McCormack said he’d like restaurants and neighbors to be part of that conversation.

“We know that there are a lot of smaller retailers,” Brennan said. “I think one of the biggest jobs for retailers will be ensuring that there is proper social distancing.”

The county board of health doesn’t plan to fine anyone for an initial offense, Brennan said, but fines will come after repeated violations or if a business is creating a significant health risk.

ideastream’s Nick Castele contributed to this report.

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