Health unit keeping an eye on chip trucks during COVID-19

A chip stand on Eleventh Street East in Cornwall, Ont. on Thursday, March 26, 2020. Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis says the health unit will be keeping an eye on chip trucks and chip stands during the coronavirus pandemic. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – With spring weather here, people may be tempted to line up outdoors at their local favourite neighbourhood chip truck or chip stand.

But with people lining up for grub in the age of social distancing and using condiment containers that could harbour the coronavirus, it’s a concern for the local medical officer of health.

Dr. Paul Roumeliotis was asked by Cornwall Newswatch about it during a conference call on Tuesday.

“That’s a very good point. I hadn’t really thought about that but that is a possibility. There’s ways of doing it. There’s ways of distancing yourself,” Roumeliotis said.

The doctor says vendors can operate “provided they have certain mechanisms in place,” such as shields for servers, only allowing one person lining up, or putting a call-ahead order system in place.

“But certainly, you’re right, you don’t want them (customers) lining up one behind the other to serve.”

Since they are classified as a take-out restaurant, chip trucks are considered an essential service.

Based on Cornwall Newswatch’s question, Roumeliotis says he will be speaking to his public health inspectors and food manager about the chip stand/truck issue.

Some Cornwall chip trucks are already taking action.

Management for one local eatery said in a Facebook post that it’s installing “point of sale distance shields,” giving staff the choice of whether to work and will have Lysol wipes on hand for using the debit machine and to clean other surfaces.