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Regular health inspections of Erie County restaurants on hold

The health department will still respond to complaints called in by employees or customers

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Since the outbreak of coronavirus its been all hands on deck at the Erie County Department of Health, with available personnel being shifted into dealing with the pandemic. This includes employees who normally conduct health inspections.

It’s the reason Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz cited in signing an executive order closing down privately owned campgrounds in the county effective on Wednesday until further notice.

In a statement attached to the order, the county executive wrote:

“Not only do campgrounds allow for large gatherings of people in contradiction of necessary social distancing measures, but under NYS law campgrounds must also be monitored and reviewed by our Public Health Sanitarians, all of whom are currently engaged in stopping the spread of the coronavirus in our community.”

We got curious as to what other duties these Public Health Sanitarians might be not be able to currently perform.

It turns out that restaurants are not currently being inspected on a regular basis either.

The county posts restaurant inspections on its department of health website.

Our review showed that through Friday, March 13 they were being conducted on a normal basis, with dozens being done per day. However, since that date (which reflects a period of more than one month) only eight have been listed as having been performed county wide, with the last having been conducted on April 3, which was nearly 2 weeks ago.

While many restaurants have closed since New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued his executive order “New York on Pause,” and would not need to be inspected, many others are still operating under rules that allow for takeout and delivery service.

A county spokesperson confirmed that inspections are now only being done in a response to direct complaints filed by customers or employees, due again to the number of employees who have been shifted to coronavirus duties.

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