ALBION — Restaurant and food servers must still wear face masks while serving patrons in Stage 4.5, and Dr. Terry Gaff said residents can file a complaint with the Noble County Health Department if servers are not complying.
As restaurants were allowed to reopen to dine-in service as part of Indiana’s Back on Track reopening plan, the state is requiring servers, cooks and other employees of food service establishments to wear face masks while on the job.
Even as Indiana has advanced to Stage 4.5, just shy of a total reopening for the state, masks are still required, not recommended for restaurant staff.
Gaff said residents shouldn’t confuse that with rules for restaurant patrons, who are encouraged to wear a mask outside of when they need to uncover to eat and drink, but aren’t required to cover.
While some COVID-19 safety measures may be difficult for local officials to enforce, food service requirements are on the easier end since counties already are responsible for doing food service inspections and restaurants and vendors have to be licensed in order to serve food.
Gaff said any establishment that is not complying with mask rules can be inspected and can be asked to meet requirements. Any food vendor that willingly chooses not to comply can face consequences up to and including suspension of their service license.
In general, most establishments are complying with the rules, Gaff said. As of Friday, the county only had two active cases for mask violations at restaurants and compliance has overall been good, he said.
Gaff said enforcing the mask requirement for restaurants is being treated the same way as other cleanliness rules like making sure employees wash hands, clean dishes and utensils or cook food to proper temperatures.
“In general there is good compliance, it’s just the outliers we’re concerned about and we want to protect the people of Noble County,” Gaff said.
Gaff said if people spot restaurants out of compliance with the mask rules, a written complaint should be mailed to the health department at 2090 S. S.R. 9, Suite C, Albion IN, 46701 or emailed to county food sanitation officers Linda Gray or Tina Lough at email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org.