Recent threats to restaurant inspectors by those opposed to indoor dining restrictions in St. Louis County have prompted calls for common decency from leaders of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 610.
County restaurant inspectors are members of the Teamsters union whose job is to ensure restaurants comply with local regulations, sanitation protocols, and other public health safety measures. In recent incidents, restaurant inspectors were subjected to threats while inspecting restaurants.
“Our members are hard-working professionals who are being subjected to physical threats and intimidation. That is unacceptable,” said Local 610 Principal Officer Dan Thacker.
The group’s Business Representative, Jeff Hall, president of Local 610, said, “We just hope people will treat our members the way they would want to be treated themselves.”
“Restaurant inspectors have only one goal – to protect the safety and public health interests of County residents. The work they perform is often thankless and the importance of their work is often overlooked,” said County Executive Dr. Sam Page.
Threats to restaurant inspectors are investigated by the Department of Public Health and ultimately turned over to the Police Department.
Dr. Alex Garza of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force said the region’s ICU capacity is at about 96 percent. The three largest healthcare systems reported last week that they are now sending adult patients to their children’s hospitals for treatment.
New CDC guidance issued Friday, Nov. 11, recommends people avoid “non-essential indoor spaces and crowded outdoor settings.” The CDC noted that “[e]xposures at nonessential indoor settings and crowded outdoor settings pose a preventable risk to all participants,” and clarified that “[i]ndoor venues, where distancing is not maintained and consistent use of face masks is not possible (e.g., restaurant dining), have been identified as particularly high-risk scenarios.”
Two weeks ago, the St. Louis County Public Health Department issued a protocol temporarily suspending indoor dining for restaurants and bars, and encouraging increased outdoor and takeaway options as alternatives. That same guidance was echoed by the CDC.
FIVE RESTAURANTS ORDERED CLOSED FOR VIOLATIONS
Although 99.9 percent of the County’s 4,915 restaurants and bars complied with the protocols, the St. Louis County Department of Public Health ordered five establishments to close for openly violating the heath measures.
Page’s office said the restaurants’ action put their patrons, their staff, and the community at risk. Page said the establishments can reopen after showing they will be in compliance with current health orders, echoing the words of Dr. Garza, who during last Friday’s pandemic briefing stated:
“Whether you are a policymaker or a parent, a governor or a grandchild, you have the power to fight this battle and ease this burden on our healthcare workers. You have the power to keep people from getting the virus and getting so sick that they have to be hospitalized. You have the power to get our economy back safer and sooner.”