While on your essential outings, you may start seeing green signs that read, "This facility is compliant," in the windows of open restaurants around the county. The signs, introduced April 27, list four main practices to slow the spread of COVID-19 — wearing facial coverings, practicing social distancing and hand washing, and offering only takeout/curbside service or delivery — and a number to call if you think the business isn't following the rules. According to the county's website
, the purpose of the signs is to encourage public confidence in the safety of establishments participating in the pilot program.
County of Humboldt
The county-issued signs to appear in the windows of shelter-in-place compliant establishments.
However, unlike the Health Department grades posted in restaurant windows, a business doesn't need a compliance certificate to operate and they require no inspections. Instead business owners or employees must sign an affidavit — under penalty of perjury — stating they're following social distancing and hygiene rules.
In an April 28 media availability video, Sheriff William Honsal said, "We want to instill confidence in our community that people and businesses are doing things to prepare for us opening up." In terms of enforcement, he said, "We can do spot checks," adding community members "can be our watchdog" by calling in complaints. The goal, he said, is to get businesses that are already operating to be in compliance but if, after a complaint and contact by law enforcement rules are still being broken, his office can issue citations.
"People shouldn't support businesses that aren't adhering to these guidelines," Honsal said, adding he believes market forces will motivate restaurants into compliance since customers will want to patronize restaurants where they feel safe.
Handwashing, covering coughs and sneezes, using masks and sanitizing high-touch surfaces are a matter of training and protocol. But some restaurant layouts may make the 6-foot distance rule difficult if not impossible to follow, whether in the front of the house or in kitchen and prep areas customers rarely see. Handing food to customers over a counter or a curb also breaks the social distance bubble.
The pilot program is open to restaurants but according to the county website, the plan is to expand "to grocery stores next and from there to any allowable business."