Health department to restaurants: no dine-in order applies to outdoor seating, too

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Harnett County health officials are reminding restaurants to end all onsite consumption of food and beverages, even outside, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They’re calling on local law enforcement to back them up.

The restaurants that fail to follow the state order that put limits on serving large groups, could be charged with a misdemeanor, according to a release from the Harnett County Health Department.

Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order Tuesday closing restaurants and bars to dine-in customers.

Public health officials say that order applies to “all seating areas.”

“Restaurants are restricted to carry-out, drive-through and delivery to ensure food is available while maintaining social distancing,” the Health Department release stated. “Restaurant staff are not permitted to serve patrons indoors or in the outdoor seating area. If a restaurant has outdoor seating, onsite consumption in the outdoor seating area is not permitted pursuant to the Order of Abatement. All areas of North Carolina are subject to mass gathering restrictions and social distancing guidelines.”

It’s up to local law enforcement agencies and district attorneys to enforce the order, according to the release. Violations are subject to prosecution of a class 2 misdemeanor.

“Seating areas of restaurants and bars constitute an imminent hazard for the spread of COVID-19,” states the Order of Abatement of Imminent Hazard issued by the secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

For more information regarding restaurants and bars restrictions due to COVID-19, call the Harnett County Health Department through the Environmental Health Division at 910-893-7547 or visit www.harnett.org/health.

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