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Safety inspectors enforce COVID-19 guidelines at New Orleans restaurants

The checks and inspections send a strong enforcement message from health officials working to keep the virus from spreading.

NEW ORLEANS — Safety guidelines for restaurants are being enforced to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Code enforcement is checking business compliance while authorities are investigating those who don't.

According to email exchanges between local health officials, Dr. Jennifer Avegno and Dr. Joe Kanter, Felix's Restaurant and Oyster Bar on the Lakefront and Tchoup Yard are being formally investigated after hosting Isidore Newman graduates May 27. 

Robbie Orgeron is President of Felix's Restaurant Group.

"It was a private dinner we had and we still followed the rules," Orgeron said.

According to Orgeron, the Louisiana Department of Health inspected his lakefront restaurant Tuesday after a complaint was made against them for hosting the Newman dinner. 

"We have never had one of our employees test positive and as far as my knowledge goes, no one in that group has tested positive," Orgeron said. 

The complaint comes as health officials are trying to determine the origin of recent coronavirus clusters in the city

"I really don't think it came from this location," Orgeron said. 

Orgeron claims he had less than 25 percent capacity had staff wear PPE and several sanitation stations. He said he has not been officially fined for any violations. 

"I think it's unjust that they are saying this could be the start of this cluster when this has been well over going on a month now, and we've yet to have a single test come back positive," Orgeron said. 

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Even businesses without complaints against them are getting compliance checks.

"They just identified themselves and said they were coming to inspect and we were fine with that because we had done everything they asked us to do," Kathy Redmann said.

Redmann, owner of Still Perkin' Coffee Shop, said code enforcement stopped by her business several weeks ago. 

"Two guys showed up and we got an A-plus rating because they stayed for a few minutes and watched that our tables were apart, that we were using paper products that could be thrown out, we have X's on the floor," Redmann said.  

The checks and inspections send a strong enforcement message from health officials working to keep the virus from spreading.

Tchoup Yard did not reply to our request for comment on the investigation. 

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