ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Orange County officials told FOX 35 that gas stations and convenience stores are among the top businesses caught routinely not following COVID-19 health and safety guidelines and rules.
They said there are roughly 40 businesses that have been inspected twice by Orange County strike teams and have been found non-compliant both times.
Tim Boldig, Orange County’s Deputy Director of Planning, Environmental, and Developmental Services, said the problem is usually people not wearing masks.
“Typically your gas stations, convenience stores, your quick in and out places are the toughest ones to find full compliance,” Boldig explained. “I think people kind of let their guard down… It’s a quick in and out type of thing. I’m only going to be in there for a minute.”
Orange County gas station owner Bhavesh Kumal Patel said he will usually see a handful of customers enter his store without wearing a mask.
“I will say out of 100, I have like approximately five percent of people don’t have it," Patel said. He makes sure those customers know the rules though. “Most of the time, a customer comes through the door and we say hey and they realize that they don’t have a mask to enter the store and they go back to their car and they put it on and come back.”
Orange County started sending out strike teams over the summer to randomly inspect businesses and make sure they were following all health safety rules. They are not an enforcement entity. Their goal is to educate and encourage businesses to comply with the rules.
Boldig said, as of the last week of September, the strike teams had inspected nearly 2,700 businesses and found 95 percent of them to be in-compliance with all COVID-19 safety rules and guidelines.
He said that “we’re out there to make sure they have check marks and floor markers to indicate those distance separations. We make sure they have [appropriate] signage.”
Of the 2,665 businesses inspected, 279 were found to be non-compliant. During the re-inspections of the non-compliant businesses, Boldig said 84 percent were brought into compliance.
Strike teams are readily prepared to bring businesses into compliance. Boldig explained that "we have supplies with us, whether it’s hand sanitizer, masks, posters both in English and Spanish.”
If a business is found not following the rules, a non-compliance letter will be issued and the business will be re-inspected in about a week.
Boldig said that “there’s always going to be a, I guess, a small percentage that may not want to come into compliance but we’ll keep trying and we’ll keep heading out there and hopefully we can get them to turn around.”
Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest coronavirus news.