No Delaware business fined since COVID zero-tolerance policy

DOVER — No businesses have been given fines or any other administrative actions by the Delaware Division of Public Health since the state announced a zero-tolerance enforcement policy for COVID-19 restrictions beginning Dec. 14.

Three establishments were fined Dec. 10 for failing to follow restrictions put in place in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus, before the new zero-tolerance policy went into effect. All three businesses were previously given education before fines were administered.

Fines on Dec. 10 were accessed to Country Cupboard in Felton, Allison’s Cardsmart in Milford and Tony’s Cafe in Newark. They ranged from $200 to $700.

Country Cupboard’s fine was as a result of an inspection Nov. 30. DPH inspectors observed three violations — lack of appropriate face coverings among staff, lack of social distancing among customers and failure to develop and implement a plan addressing the use of face coverings among customers.

It was fined $300, $100 per violation. The DPH had previously conducted a visit July 14 and contacted the store over the phone Oct. 20 after receiving complaints on noncompliance. The DPH said education was provided during these conversations.

Allison’s Cardsmart received a $200 fine for an inspection on Dec. 3 after DPH inspectors found two violations — lack of appropriate face coverings among staff and failure to develop and implement a plan addressing the use of face coverings among customers.

The DPH had previously contacted the facility on Oct. 20 over the phone after receiving complaints of noncompliance. It provided education to assist with compliance during this call.

Tony’s Cafe was given the largest fine at $700 for seven violations on Dec. 10 after an inspection performed on Nov. 19. Tony’s Cafe was found to have violations during previous visits on June 29, July 24 and Oct. 23 where the DPH found numerous violations and provided assistance to assist with compliance.

The seven violations which led to fines were lack of appropriate spacing between tables, guests seated at tables with lack of appropriate spacing between other guests, lack of floor markings or signage for counter service/pickup, napkin dispensers and condiment holder pre-placed on tables, lack of contamination protection for to-go containers, lack of a reopening plan and lack of floor markings or signage to guide customers in appropriate spacing.

Since the new regulations and zero-tolerance enforcement policy went into effect on Dec. 14, the DPH has yet to report any administrative actions. The zero-tolerance policy calls for an immediate fine for a first violation, and be subject to closure for a second violation, pending a reopening plan for DPH approval.

Delawareans can report a business for noncompliance by emailing HSPcontact@delaware.gov.

Gov. John Carney said last week he has not received a report yet on how the new zero-tolerance policy was working.

“The final analysis will be measured by a reduction in positive cases,” Gov. Carney said. “And ultimately the flattening out of the need for COVID-19 hospitalization treatment.”

“My guess is kind of on anecdotal kind of observations and reports, is that a lot of people were circulating,” added Gov. Carney regarding late December. “A lot of people were out doing Christmas and holiday shopping. Hopefully they were limiting their trips. At the same time, parking lots at malls weren’t as full as they normally would be.”

Delaware restaurants were reduced to 30% capacity during the new guidelines and also have a 10 p.m. curfew, which began on Dec. 14.

Gov. Carney said the state settled on 10 p.m. to strike a balance to allow the restaurants to stay open at night to receive revenue but close establishments earlier in the night, before the times when people are less likely to follow all restrictions.

“The idea was providing some capacity for restaurants to serve their clientele to get some revenue on the business side,” Gov. Carney said. “On the protection side, we know as the night goes on, people have more to drink and they get less attentive to public health protections, gathering closer together, not wearing masks. We know that these are venues of concern and we looked at other states, what they were doing, and we came up with 10 p.m.”


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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