FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) — Code enforcement officers in Fort Worth have shifted daily routines from food service and pool inspections, to enforcing the closure of non-essential businesses and social distancing guidelines in those allowed to remain open.
Officers have written three citations so far to businesses that did not close under the city’s stay home order. One was a restaurant; another was a car wash. They will face a fine of up to $2,000 when municipal courts reopen.
The citations are a rarity according to officers who said a phone call, or in-person visit usually has been enough to convince companies to comply with the rules.
While the thousands of calls to the city’s COVID-19 hotline launched last month, started with questions about guidelines, that has shifted to complaints, said officer Crispin Gipson. It’s a mix of people reporting perceived violations, and those fearful they may have been exposed to unsafe conditions.
“Sometimes we can make a phone call and verify over the phone,” he said. “We’ll ask them what exactly are you doing? What procedures are you following? Sometimes we can tell, they can rattle off pretty quick, ‘we’re doing this, we’re doing this. We’ve got people separated. We’ve got people working from home.’ And then sometimes we’ll get a second or third call and we’ll come check it out.”
Gipson checked out a call Wednesday at RTP Company, a plastics and compound manufacturer in south Fort Worth. The industrial company is allowed to be open, but there had been a complaint that employees were too close, coughing on each other, and the company was not cleaning.
After walking the warehouse, and being told management was spending thousands of dollars on extra cleaning, Gipson determined they were in compliance.
“We’re trying to reduce the amount of people that are in contact with each other,” he said.