PHOENIX (May 7, 2020) – The Maricopa County Environmental Services Department’s inspection of restaurants and other essential food operations has continued as normal with more than 900 inspections conducted each week since the executive order suspending dine-in service went into effect. Many restaurants are now preparing to resume dine-in services on or after Monday, May 11, and inspectors are ready to return to their normal volume.
“The last several weeks have been difficult for restaurant operators as many suspended dine-in services,” said Darcy Kober, Maricopa County Environmental Services Director. “We have a re-opening checklist for restaurants that reminds operators to make sure hot/cold holding equipment is operational, food supplies are wholesome and to have adequate supplies of soap, paper towels and disinfectant on hand. With these food safety measures in place, we anticipate a smooth transition back to dine-in services.”
Compliance inspections are critical to verify measures to reduce the risk of foodborne disease transmission are in place. For those establishments that remained open, Environmental Services staff also served as an educational resource as businesses adjusted kitchen operations. Establishments that suspended dine-in service did so at the direction of the Governor’s Executive Order; therefore, the authority to resume this service also falls under that order. A guidance document for restaurants resuming dine-in service has been provided by the Governor’s Office, and a link is available through the Environmental Services COVID-19 resource page.
“The food code requires restaurants to have a certified food protection manager on staff with knowledge of food-borne disease prevention,” added Kober. “They must also properly disinfect food preparation and dining areas and have a policy in place that requires employees to report illness and stay home if they are sick.”
Maricopa County has approximately 70 field inspectors who conduct inspections of restaurants and other food establishments to ensure they follow the food code. The County issues more than 24,000 food-related permits and conducts more than 57,000 inspections per year. Routine compliance inspections and responding to food code related complaints will continue.
View the press conference.