RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — At least five restaurants in the greater Richmond area have been subject to permit suspensions for violating Governor Ralph Northam’s new COVID-19 restrictions, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
Plaza Mexico, a bar and grill along S. Crater Road in Petersburg, was cited for exceeding the building’s occupancy limits, violating social distancing restrictions, patrons seated at the bar and “very few face coverings” were worn, according to VDH spokesperson, Cheryle Rodriguez, Tuesday.
The restaurant’s owner was charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor for the violations, after a local health district “obtained a warrant.”
A Class 1 misdemeanor is a potential consequence of Northam’s latest round of restrictions.
Among measures included in the governor’s latest pandemic-era crack-down, public and private gatherings are limited to 25 individuals instead of the previous cap: 250 persons. The limitation, however, does not apply to religious services, employment or schools.
The latest measures, which went into effect November 16, include a directive for restaurants to continue requiring mask-wearing when patrons are not eating and drinking, as well as better sanitation and physical distancing. In addition, restaurants, bars and breweries are among establishments barred from selling alcohol after 10 p.m., including consumption on-site.
Rodriguez also said the City of Richmond suspendend restaurant permits for four additional restaurants for social distancing and mask-wearing violations.
Nama, an ndian cuisine restaurant, and Switch Pop-Up Bar — neighboring establishments on West Broad Street — had their shared restaurant permit suspended, according to Rodriguez.
General Manger Derick Washington said the suspension was handed down the week of November 16, and admitted to issues that were cited, including “making sure that people were in their seats.”
Washington said restaurant owners’ reopening plan was approved by the city health department, and have since continued operations.
Home Sweet Home, located on West Cary Street, was also suspended.
Bridget Joseph, a bartender, said they were suspended November 20 for distancing.
“We were still doing bar service at the time, and some tables were too close,” she said.
8News could not immediately verity those claims with city health officials.
Joseph said the owner also met with city health officials, and reopened after submitting their own plans to address concerns.
Rodriguez also said Escapate Bar & Lounge on Hull Street, who was caught in hot water in September after a video surfaced showing lacking social distancing, was also part of recent suspensions.
Staff at Escapate Bar & Lounge and Plaza Mexico could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday night.
Rodriguez noted a Virginia municipality was also in violation of the 25-person limit.
The Town of Pound, nestled in the southwest corridor of the commonwealth, “was issued a notice of violation letter” for holding a parade on December 6. Under the” Entertainment and Public Amusement Sector requirements,” these events are limited to 25 people, according to Rodriguez.
Rodriguez acknowledged “there have other businesses and sectors found in violation of the 25 person limits in certain settings.”
What about those in violation of the 10 p.m. alcohol ‘curfew?’
According to the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority, spokesperson Valerie Hubbard said “ABC has not issued any fines to licensees for non-compliance with those requirements. ABC has found licensees to be largely cooperative and willing to comply with restrictions, with only minor issues that can be corrected on the spot.”
However, Hubbard said “ABC has conducted over 200 visits to licensees” since the Nov. 16 restrictions became effective.
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