- The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health will soon begin listing restaurants with outbreaks of COVID-19 online, according to the Los Angeles Times.
- Its county website already lists institutions such as nursing facilities, jails, prisons, shelters and treatment centers that have had at least one confirmed case with staff or residents, but it is unclear how this policy will be implemented for restaurants and how long they would be listed online.
- A handful of area restaurants, including Gjusta and Mozzaplex, temporarily closed after there were COVID-19 cases among their employees.
Much like letter grades and public food safety violations, restaurants that are listed with COVID-19 cases among staff or customers could face harm to their reputations.
Many restaurants in Los Angeles and all over the country switched to takeout and delivery following stay-at-home orders, but a notice like this could be a death knell if it turns people away from ordering food at all. The problem could be exacerbated by online review sites already documenting complaints of food safety issues at restaurants. These sites could also become a way public health officials track the spread of coronavirus if people post comments about getting sick soon after visiting a restaurant.
While experts have said takeout poses no risk to customers as long as restaurants take proper precautions, operations could be more complicated when customers start to return to restaurants that have dine-in seating. These types of public health listings could play a larger role as several states implement plans to reopen next week.
Many restaurants have already provided gloves and masks and installed safety shields at cash registers to protect staff and customers, but keeping dine-in customers and full-service employees equally safe will be much more difficult.