LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As Americans start to return to their somewhat regular day-to-day routines, coronavirus case numbers are on the rise.
“A lot of the data points to the reopening of entertainment venues, bars, pubs, restaurants and beaches for being the primary culprit for the increase in cases,” Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness Assistant Director Connie Mendel said.
As Kentucky continues the reopening process, there are state-mandated Healthy at Work guidelines that businesses must follow. Local health departments are tasked with making sure they are doing so. Now, with the new mask mandate, that includes refusing service to anyone not wearing a mask.
“Even once they are inside the facility, make sure they continue to wear those. Now if you are at a restaurant or bar, once people are seated and begin beverage or food consumption, obviously, they will need to take those off, but if they get up to use the restroom or as they go to leave, they need to put those masks back on,” Mendel said.
The Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness inspects businesses, particularly the ones people have called to complain about. If the guidelines were not followed, the department can issue a corrective warrant, detailing the changes the business needs to make to stay open.
Mendel said the majority of the inspections do not result in a corrective warrant as most places have been following the guidelines. However, not all are.
Mendel said the department has issued just under 100 corrective orders.
The most common problem has been masks and social distancing.
The department has also issued around 50 businesses to close. Mendel said the majority of those were early on when businesses were operating even though they weren't supposed to be.
Local health departments are looking into businesses more than individuals, but people can face a fine for not following the mask mandate. Mendel said that would be issued by law enforcement or a peace officer, not the health department.
As we see case numbers on the rise, health experts say everyone needs to do their part.
“Louisville is a big foodie city. We love our restaurants and bars and all of that and want them to stay open at the level that they are, so we all need to do our part to make sure our businesses stay open,” Mendel said.
If you are out and have concerns about a business, you can call 311 to report it to the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness. Mendel said many of the inspections they go on are a result of those tips. So far, the department has received over 3,500 calls.