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As numbers climb, Missoula health department begins inspections of bars, restaurants

(KPAX) The Missoula City-County Health Department is cracking down on local and state coronavirus mandates.

COVID-19 Incident Commander Cindy Farr said in light of the county’s recent spike in COVID cases, her team will conduct unannounced inspections of bars and restaurants during high business hours.

Up until this point, the Health Department has only responded to violation complaints to enforce mandates, but with 410 active cases as of Tuesday and a large portion of those cases in the 20 to 29-year-old age range, Farr said they have to boost their enforcement, especially at those establishments where the younger population works and frequents.

“While the majority of those locations were in good compliance with distancing occupancy and face covering requirements, several establishments were issued warning letters,” said Farr. “Failure to comply with COVID-19 restrictions may result in further restrictions, closures, or referral to prosecution based on upcoming follow up inspections.”

Since the onset of the pandemic in March, Farr’s team has responded to hundreds of complaints about violations. Last week, they began drop-in visits, inspecting bars, casinos, breweries, and dining establishments.