City halts routine restaurant inspections - Albuquerque Journal

City halts routine restaurant inspections

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

A City of Albuquerque Environmental Health Department sticker adorns a restaurant window. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

The coronavirus pandemic has forced the city of Albuquerque to close libraries, reduce bus service and limit shelter pet adoptions to appointments only.

It has also prompted the city to temporarily stop routine restaurant inspections.

Many restaurants around Albuquerque and throughout New Mexico continue to operate amid the COVID-19 outbreak, albeit in a limited fashion. A state order effective March 19 restricted restaurants to only takeout and delivery business.

A spokeswoman for the city’s Environmental Health Department said the city began coronavirus-related outreach to restaurants in early March and is still providing them updated information “on public health orders, cleaning and sanitizing practices and federal guidance.”

But the department – which typically inspects each restaurant at least twice per year – halted routine inspections on March 16. The inspections include checking for cleanliness, food storage temperatures, the adequacy of hand-washing stations and more.

Stopping those inspections was done “out of an abundance of caution to limit the risk of acquiring and/or spreading the virus by our personnel,” Environmental Health Department spokeswoman Maia Rodriguez told the Journal in an email.

She said the city would still perform inspections based on incoming complaints. That includes responding to complaints about restaurants violating the current coronavirus-related state and local public health orders.

The city has received 16 restaurant complaints since March 16, leading to one site visit, she said.

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