While officials at the New Hanover County Health Department's environmental health division said they are trying to limit in-person interactions amid the COVID-19 outbreak, they are open for business and working to keep restaurants safe and informed.
“We’re answering calls and sending out mass emails to keep business owners updated on the latest regulations imposed at the state and local levels in regards to COVID-19,” said Alicia Pickett, environmental health supervisor.
Pickett said that while many of the Environmental Health Department’s employees are working from home, supervisors continue to work from the department’s headquarters. And while regularly scheduled heath inspections have been suspended, the department is looking into any and all complaints that are registered.
Additionally, the department is continuing to review and write permits for new establishments and conduct on-site inspections for new and transitional businesses. Despite the outbreak, the department is still allowing new restaurants to open.
“It’s important that people be able to move forward with getting restaurants open,” Pickett said. “Of course that means they will have to open with just curbside pick-up or delivery as opposed to what they were originally planning, but they will still have the opportunity to open.”
For example, Pickett said that an inspection was done this week at Chick-fil-A’s Monkey Junction location, which has been under renovation.
Keri Branson, marketing director for the Monkey Junction Chick-fil-A location, owned by Harold and Jennifer Jarvis, said Pickett performed an inspection of their refrigeration equipment, granting them the ability to start ordering food. Branson said that the restaurant is in the final stages of completing the renovation and is training staff for the necessary COVID-19 practices that will be in place when the restaurant reopens.
“We have put some extra things in place, such as an outdoor sink, to protect our team as well as our customers,” Branson said. “This location will have a double drive-thru, which will be especially helpful under the current circumstances, and changes to the parking lot will allow for about 20 curbside spaces during the time that our dining room remains closed.”
Pending final inspections, Branson anticipates the Monkey Junction Chick-fil-A will be open by the end of the month.
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