Austin, TX (STL.News) Austin Public Health (APH) has launched a telephone hotline to assist Austin-Travis County restaurants with questions related to COVID-19. The hotline, Helping Austin Restaurants Today (HART), can be reached at (512) 978-HART (4278).
“We know that our Austin restaurant community is working hard and doing a good job in keeping their employees, customers and food safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, but we also know that it’s challenging for them to keep abreast of frequently changing federal, state and local COVID-19 regulations, guidelines and scientific findings,” said Don Hastings, Assistant Director of the APH Environmental Health Services Division (EHSD). “We’re hoping this direct line connecting restaurants to our environmental health professionals will help.”
Proactive action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among food establishments began on March 13 with the adoption of Emergency Rules requiring additional public health disease mitigation and signage requirements, which included making hand sanitizer available to customers, disinfecting surfaces every hour and excluding employees with a fever.
Since then, food establishments have closed indoor and outdoor dining areas to the public and are limited to delivery or take-out only. Austin Transportation Department has installed temporary food pick-up zones in support of local restaurants that transitioned to take-out and delivery only service. Restaurants can request an evaluation for a temporary food pick-up zone by filling out the online contact form.
APH also works closely with the Texas and Austin Restaurant Associations to share information and concerns, especially in times of emergency like the current COVID-19 pandemic and previously with the 2018 Boil Water Alert.
The HART hotline will be staffed 7:45 a.m.- 4:45 p.m., Monday through Friday. Restaurants calling outside those hours have the option of leaving a voicemail message or forwarding their question via email to EHSD.Service@AustinTexas.gov. For more information and updates, visit www.AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.