The state Department of Agriculture ordered three restaurants – none from Lancaster County -- to close last week for violations of COVID-19 mitigation requirements.
For the week ending Feb. 14, the agriculture department issued “closed by order” notices to The Filling Station in Lebanon County, Middleburg Auction Salebarn Restaurant in Snyder County, and Milky Way Restaurant in Franklin County.
The agriculture department said the businesses refused to correct violations of dining capacity limits or masking rules while an inspector was present. Lancaster city, which does its own restaurant inspections, did not issue any closure orders last week.
Since mid-December, the agriculture department issued more than 150 “closure by notice” orders to restaurants that violated a three-week indoor dining ban that ended Jan. 4, or ignored other rules. In Lancaster County, 26 restaurants have gotten the closure notices, more than any other county where restaurants are inspected by the state.
The agriculture department’s weekly reports on COVID-19 restaurant inspections do not include data from the 140 local health departments and six counties that do their own enforcement of the state’s health code. In Lancaster County, Lancaster city is the only municipality that conducts its own restaurant inspections.
The closure notices don’t necessarily mean a restaurant will shut down, but if it continues to operate, it is referred to the Department of Health for possible further measures. So far the health department has sued 40 restaurants in Commonwealth Court for allowing indoor dining during the three-week ban on dine-in services. Seven Lancaster County restaurants were named in those lawsuits.