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Bella Italia ordered to close

Restaurant cited for violating state COVID-19 orders on indoor dining

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has listed the names of restaurants that have been closed for offering dine-in services in violation of temporary COVID-19 mitigation orders from Dec. 21 through Dec. 27.

Three area restaurants are among those cited.

Only one is in Blair County — Bella Italia Restaurant, 328 S. Logan Blvd., Altoona.

Two eateries in Bedford County also have been cited. They are:

* Mandy Jo’s Country Corral, 126 Raystown Road, Everett.

* Marteen’s Family Restaurant, 2 W. Main St., Everett.

The information is specific to COVID-19 mitigation requirements for restaurants, including masking of employees offering carry-out, delivery and curbside pick-up services, and reflects the temporary order prohibiting dine-in service from Dec. 12 until Jan. 4, 2021.

The state Department of Agriculture said the restaurants were closed Dec. 21-27, by order after it was confirmed they were offering dine-in service in violation of temporary COVID-19 mitigation orders. Each refused to comply with the order upon in-person confirmation of the violation.

The numbers include actions taken during routine food safety inspections and inspections prompted by consumer complaints.

From Dec. 21-27, the department’s Bureau of Food Safety performed 381 inspections, 54 of which were complaint-driven. Of those, 50 were COVID-19 specific complaints. The department received 42 food facility COVID-19 related complaints, and 20 of those COVID-19 related complaints were referred to local and county health jurisdictions.

Inspectors closed 33 restaurants by order after confirming that each was open for dine-in service and refused to comply with the order while the inspector was present.

On Dec. 23, the Department of Health petitioned Commonwealth Court through the Attorney General’s office, seeking an injunction against 22 restaurants that continued to offer dine-in services after receiving the bureau’s closure order. The petition asks the court to issue a preliminary injunction immediately enjoining these restaurants from permitting indoor dining, and award the commonwealth compensatory damages for costs of enforcing the temporary order, punitive damages for willful and wanton violation of the order and other damages the court deems appropriate.

The limited-time mitigation order includes:

* All in-person indoor dining at businesses in the retail food services industry, including, but not limited to, bars, restaurants, breweries, wineries, distilleries, social clubs and private catered events is prohibited.

* Outdoor dining, take-out food service and take-out alcohol sales are permitted and may continue, subject to any limitations or restrictions imposed by Pennsylvania law, or any other order issued by the Secretary of Health or by the governor.

A county-by-county breakdown of COVID-19 restaurant enforcement actions can be found on the Department of Agriculture’s website, agriculture.pa.gov/covid. The data will be updated weekly with data from the previous week.

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