The Putnam Examiner

Putnam Health Officials Consulting Restaurants Amidst Re-Opening

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By Gabriel Harrison

Local restaurants will face challenges as they reopen, but have been communicating with local health officials to restart business as smoothly as possible as Putnam prepares to enter Phase III of New York’s re-opening plan.

Last night at a county legislative meeting, county health officials Shawn Rogan and Michael J. Nesheiwat discussed the county Health Department’s role in the re-opening process.

“The restaurant community is very near and dear to my heart,” Rogan said. He said the health department works to maintain strong communication channels with local restaurant owners and uses regulation only as a “last line of defense.”

Restaurant operators are dealing with a number of new rules and challenges, including equipping employees with personal protective equipment (often abbreviated PPE) and adhering to 13 pages of guidelines, health officials said. They said the health department has been communicating closely with local restaurant owners to ease the process.

Re-opening restaurants is part of Phase III of the re-opening process. Putnam is expected to most likely begin Phase III on June 23. (Although an official cited June 22 as the date). 

With two week intervals between phases, circumstances depending, the fourth and final phase is estimated to occur on about July 7 and would re-open arts and entertainment. 

At the meeting last night with Putnam County legislators, Rogan and Nesheiwat discussed some of the new rules restaurants must follow. Patrons must be seated a safe distance away from each other to maintain social distancing. This may restrict the seating of patrons in adjacent booths, but restaurants can increase their permitted capacity by constructing shields between booths. To facilitate contact tracing, restaurants may also keep records of who comes in and where they sit.

Health officials also discussed the re-opening of pools. Rogan said the capacity for pools will be determined by whether patrons can maintain social distancing.

Among other challenges and requirements, Rogan said business operators of every kind must write a seven page business re-opening plan, a New York State requirement. That requirement applies even to businesses that remained open during the crisis.

Putnam County health officials can be reached with questions at

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