Late Friday afternoon, the state approved Campbell County’s variance application to allow bars and restaurants to open in a limited capacity.

It is effective immediately.

The variances provide exceptions for restaurants, bars, coffeehouses and other places of public accommodation to offer food, beverages or alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption.

The variance includes a number of restrictions under which restaurants and bars must operate. The restrictions include, but are not limited to:

  • Patrons must be seated at tables (including booths)
  • Tables shall be limited to groups of six, preferably the same household
  • Tables with guests must be positioned so that guests at different tables are at least 6 feet apart from each other when seated
  • Businesses shall ensure physical distancing guidelines are maintained
  • Staff must wear face coverings at all times and wash hands between interactions with each table
  • Tables must not be set prior to customer arrival
  • Dedicated staff shall sanitize the area occupied by customers upon departure, including tables, menus, pens, salt and pepper shakers, etc.
  • Businesses may not operate if personal protective equipment, EPA-approved disinfectants and sanitizers, soap and other necessary cleaning supplies are not available
  • Hand sanitizer must be available immediately adjacent to bathrooms
  • No self-serve food service or buffet options may be available
  • Employees must be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 prior to each shift

There are a number of additional restrictions included in the variance, and business owners are encouraged to carefully read the variance and restrictions and direct any questions to Campbell County Public Health. Failure to follow the outlined restrictions would violate the first statewide order.

Commission Chairman D.G. Reardon said he’s glad local restaurants and bars are back open.

“We’re glad to see it. I want to thank everybody that was involved in putting the variance together,” Reardon said.

He asks that people continue social distancing as they go out to enjoy a meal and that “hopefully we can get through this without any more cases.”

Worship services

The state also approved a variance that relaxes the second statewide order forbidding gatherings of 10 or more people to accommodate houses of worship and funeral homes.

Links to both of these variances are available at ccgov.net/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=1281.

The approval comes on the heels of lab results of 71 people who were contacts of Campbell County’s 16th case of coronavirus. All 71 tests were negative and all will continue to be monitored for the development of symptoms for the standard 14-day quarantine period.

“The last two cases (cases 15 and 16) exposed more than 100 people, many of whom were in the high-risk population,” said County Health Officer Dr. Kirtikumar Patel. “Everyone who followed prevention guidelines (use of face masks, washing hands, frequently sanitizing common areas) made a difference in containing the spread of the virus. We should be aware and thankful these practices protected many high-risk people and the community as a whole.”

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