New Haven COVID Task Force carries out surprise inspections inside city businesses

New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A stern message Wednesday from New Haven’s Director of Public Health Maritza Bond: “For individuals that have still not gotten a wake-up call, we are in a red alert. This is killing individuals.”

Bond sent the city’s COVID-19 Task Force out on the streets Wednesday for surprise inspections inside city stores and businesses. They wanted to see if businesses are complying with Governor Ned Lamont’s safety guidelines, like making sure employees and customers were wearing masks and that stores didn’t have large crowds.

Task Force member Jim Turcio told News 8 he was angry at what he saw inside the C-Town Grocery store.

News 8 caught an exchange between Turcio and a man who said he was a store manager:

“We just had two delivery guys in the back without masks on — in your warehouse without a mask on,” Turcio said. “One of your guys in your warehouse had his mask around his chin. Do you know the protocols?…This is an official warning.”

Bond says the task force is taking a three-tier approach with businesses. First comes a warning. Then comes a fine. Then comes possible closure.

As far as what News8 witnesses inside the grocery store: “We’re going to issue them a written warning and institute fines on this business if we catch them again,” Turcio said.

News 8 asked what those fines would be.

“$500,” ‘Turcio said.

During Wednesday’s inspections, no businesses were shut down. However, the task force has shutdown 13 businesses for COVID violations recently. Ten have reopened after readjusting their practices and policies.

RELATED: New Haven health dept. raids, shuts down Anthony’s Ocean View for allegedly violating COVID restrictions, holding large party

Customers at various stores who saw the task force in action had this to say:

“I think it’s wonderful that a task force comes here and verifies that we’re doing what we ought to be doing to protect ourselves and our neighbors,” said Dr. Donna Facy.

Compliments also came from a man who was denied entry to one store because he forgot to wear his facemask: “It’s a great thing because the disease is still out here,” he said.

The task force says it’s not political: “It’s not red, it’s not blue,” said Turcio.

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