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Madison County health department investigating restaurant’s coronavirus safety complaints

Cheryl Clay has been working for the Madison County Health Department for 15 years and says she's seen a huge increase in restaurant inspections during the coronavirus pandemic.

Posted: Jun 22, 2020 8:11 PM
Updated: Jun 22, 2020 9:24 PM

The Madison County Health Department is investigating one restaurant, after the owner admitted his employees don’t wear masks and he doesn’t think they need to.

He says a clear shield in his restaurant's food line is enough to protect everyone.

The health department says it received several complaints about Chuck Wagon BBQ in Madison.

Officials at the Madison County Department of Public Health tell WAAY 31 they plan on sending an investigator over the next several days to determine if Chuck Wagon BBQ is following the terms of the state health order on coronavirus.

"Zika Virus was pretty big and I was here during H1N1. I can say this has been pretty unprecedented, especially in my career," said Cheryl Clay with the Madison County Department of Public Health.

Clay has been working for the Madison County Health Department for 15 years and says she's seen a huge increase in restaurant inspections during the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's been difficult and it's hard, but we do the best we can every day. Just show up, get out there and do our job," said Clay.

Clay explained there are three main things investigators look for: If employees are wearing masks, if each group is seated six feet apart, and that no restaurants are allowing customers to serve themselves.

"I will say most of our complaints have been about employees not wearing masks while interacting with the public," said Clay.

That’s why some Chuck Wagon customers complained to the health department. Last week, WAAY 31 asked the restaurant’s owner why employees his employees don’t wear masks.

"We don't give it to the customer because we are on our side of the barrier and they are on theirs," said Chuck Wagon BBQ owner, Mike Holley.

Clay told WAAY 31 if an investigator finds a restaurant is violating the health order, the restaurant is suspended from operating.

"To have their permit re-instated following suspension, they have to write a written procedure on how they are going to comply with the order and then they have to enact that procedure," said Clay.

One Madison County resident says she wants to see local restaurants take the state health order more seriously.

"The only way we are going to get through this is if we act selflessly through wearing masks and social distancing and keep reminding ourselves that why we are doing this is to protect our loved ones," said resident, Sheridan Schafer.

The Madison County Department of Public Health tells WAAY 31 investigators typically go to restaurants one to two days after receiving a complaint.

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