There is no timeline for routine restaurant inspections to return to their pre-pandemic form, even when indoor meals return to New York City, officials said.
Data shows that health inspectors performed approximately 148,000 restaurant inspections in 2019. This year, they performed 32,000.
Most of this year’s routine inspections took place through March 19, the data showed. Officials recorded 487 inspections that day.
The number of inspections the next day? Zero.
For next month? Zero.
What about the next month? Zero.
Routine inspections only started in August, but they are not counted in the official health department inspection journal. That’s because “the goal is education, not law enforcement,” a spokesperson for the health department sent Patch.
The health department said it would collect data on the modified inspections and send it to Patch. This story will be updated when received.
Thus, for the foreseeable future, restaurant inspections will follow the following guidelines issued by the city:
- You will be notified of the schedule for an upcoming inspection.
- Inspections will be shorter, limited to checking for conditions most associated with foodborne illness, parasitic illnesses, meeting New York State’s COVID-19 requirements, and smoking.
- During most inspections, inspectors will educate only and will not issue a subpoena or letter note. There are two exceptions: (1) if unsafe conditions are observed and cannot be corrected before the inspection is completed, the restaurant may be closed as a temporary measure to protect public health; and (2) if restaurant staff interferes with or obstructs the inspection process, the New York Department of Health may issue a subpoena or take other action.
Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said he hopes inspections will continue in this form as the restaurant industry recovers.
“As indoor dining resumes with health department inspections, we hope the focus will be on inspections focused on education and training to ensure public health and safety,” a- he said in an email.