The city of Bowling Green is beginning to send out code enforcement officers to assist in monitoring restaurants and bars for compliance with Kentucky's COVID-19 regulations.
The four officers will serve only in an outreach and education capacity to assist the Barren River District Health Department.
Bowling Green City Manager Jeff Meisel said that will include site visits to provide bars and restaurants with information on requirements for masks, social distancing and outdoor dining.
“A lot of restaurants are trying to still do outdoor dining with putting up some tents and enclosing some areas," said Meisel. "But with that, there are still rules of leaving two sides open and things like that, so there’s air circulating and it doesn’t become indoor dining with a tent.”
Any concerns or major violations will be forwarded to the Barren River District Health Department, which has enforcement authority for dining establishments.
“The city is not going to do any business closures," said Meisel. "We’re assisting the health department.”.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear issued new orders last week prohibiting indoor dining through Dec. 13 to help slow the surge of cases and deaths from COVID-19.
Meisel said the assistance from city's code enforcement personnel will likely continue as long as the city is in a "red zone."
Those are counties designated as having uncontrolled spread of the virus. Currently, all but a handful of Kentucky's 120 counties are "red zones."
Bowling Green Director of Neighborhood and Community Services Brent Childers said code inspectors usually focus on exterior property maintenance. But with the cooler weather requiring a bit less time for their regular duties, they’ll add site visits to dining establishments to provide information and education about the COVID-19 regulations.
Childers said the code enforcement staff will offer masks to restaurants and bars that need them.
"We purchased 30,000 'I love BG masks' and we have plenty of them to give out to restaurants when we stop by," said Childers.
The new restrictions that continue through Dec. 13 are on Kentucky's COVID-19 Healthy at Work website.