COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Restaurant and bar owners have the right to require customers to follow the new rules under a modified COVID-19 health order that took effect Monday for Columbia and Boone County, a health official said.
Not doing so could lead to complaints against the business itself.
Scott Clardy, assistant director of the city/county health department, said owners are allowed to step in to prevent a complaint from being sent to the health department.
"Owners of any establishments have the right to do what they need to to make sure they are in compliance with any order," he said. "They can make sure the tables are so far apart themselves and they can intervene if people are not social distancing."
If a restaurant violates the order and a complaint is issued, Clardy said the health department will intervene.
"If people are in violation of the order what usually would happen is we will get notified in a citizen complaint, we would then go out and look into it and we will work with them to make sure it doesn't happen again," he said.
Most of the time customers and owners comply and no further action is taken, Clardy said. Continued complaints, though, can lead to a notice of violation and possible charges from the city prosecutor. At least three Columbia businesses have already been charged under the old health order.
The modified health order was announced last week, with health officials citing a continuing increase in COVID-19 cases in Boone County. Under the modified order, which is in place until Aug. 31, restaurant and bar patrons must remain seated unless they're entering or leaving the building or going to the restroom.
Clardy said the health department has already received several customer complaints under the previous health order.
Most of those complaints ended in the businesses corrected their operations before getting to the level of a notice of violation, Clardy said.
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