Pa. Department of Agriculture orders Mercer County restaurant to close, alleging COVID-19 violation

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Hometown Pizza and Grill in Sandy Lake was listed among the restaurants offering dine-in service in violation of temporary COVID-19 mitigation orders

COVID, Coronavirus, Restaurants, Businesses Closed

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SANDY LAKE, Pa. (WKBN) – The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture shut down a Mercer County restaurant last week after an alleged COVID-19 violation.

Hometown Pizza and Grill in Sandy Lake was listed among the restaurants offering dine-in service in violation of temporary COVID-19 mitigation orders. According to the Department of Agriculture, the restaurants listed refused to comply with the order upon in-person confirmation of the violation.

From January 4 through January 10, the department’s Bureau of Food Safety performed 729 inspections, 130 of which were from COVID-specific complaints. The department received 171 food facility COVID-19-related complaints, and 90 of those complaints were referred to local and county health jurisdictions.

Inspectors closed 24 restaurants by order. Two restaurants later requested new inspections and were permitted to reopen after inspectors confirmed they were complying with the orders.

On January 4, the temporary order expired. Restrictions in place prior to December 12 resumed, including the following measures in restaurants:

  • Self-certified restaurants may open at 50 percent capacity for indoor dining. Restaurants that have not self-certified are at 25 percent capacity for indoor dining,
  • On-premises alcohol consumption prohibited unless part of a meal; cocktails-to-go and carryout beverages are allowed, and
  • Serving alcohol for on-site consumption must end at 11 p.m., and all alcoholic beverages must be removed from patrons by midnight.

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

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