Questions about restaurant employees wearing masks, yard sales and general safety in the age of COVID-19 were answered by Lake Cumberland District Health Department (LCDHD) officials during this week’s question and answer session.
Environmental Director Stuart Spillman answered those first two, saying that all restaurant workers – not just those working directly with the public – must wear masks.
“On the Healthy at Work website, there are two guidances that every business has to follow. The number one thing that every business has to follow is the minimum requirements,” Spillman said.
He said that it appeared that most businesses go to the requirement specific to their type of business and overlook the minimum requirements. Those minimum requirements state that all employees at a business mus wear protective coverings.
That means all restaurant workers should be wearing a mask, even if they work in the kitchen.
The only exceptions to that are if someone is working alone, “possibly in a back room,” Spillman said.
He added that all employees are required to monitor their temperatures by taking it every day, although that could be self-monitored.
Spillman also addressed questions of whether people could have yard sales, saying that they fell into the same category of other retail businesses and flea markets, all of which were allowed to open May 20.
Visitors to yard sales needed to follow social distancing guidelines by staying six feet apart, and he said that large gatherings of people were still prohibited, meaning groups couldn’t stand out in a yard and socialize.
Flea markets are also allowed to operate, but indoor flea markets can only allow customers inside at 33 percent of the building’s capacity.
Addressing questions of whether or not the public is currently safe, LCDHD Executive Director Shawn Crabtree stated bluntly, “Is is safe to go out? Is it safe to go to the restaurant? Is it safe to go to church? If you’re defining ‘safe’ as ‘Is there no chance you’re going to contract COVID-19?’ Well, no. We’ve never been ‘safe’ during this pandemic. We’ve done things to reduce the risk.”
Crabtree said that the number of confirmed cases has started to “slowly creep up” as people start to get out and socialize again, and that health officials were expecting that rise in the number of cases.
“Right now as a society, we’re trying to balance, how can we keep people safe against how much can we actually let people out and go back to normal,” Crabtree said.
There are actions people can take to stay safe in public, he said, the same actions the health department has been suggesting all along: Stay six feet apart from other people and wash your hands frequently. For other people’s safety, Crabtree urged people to wear a mask while out in public and to stay at home if they have a fever or a cough.
The best way to reduce the risk of contracting the virus is to avoid large crowds, he said.
“The more people you’re around, the more chance you have of exposure, and the more that you’re in a confined space with people, you increase your risk even further,” he said.