Williamson County and Cities Health District launches hotline for businesses opening up

Williamson County

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, TEXAS (KXAN) — While Governor Abbott has given many area businesses the green light to open, the Williamson County and Cities Health District wants to make sure they’re prepared.

The health district has launched a telephone hotline to assist Williamson County restaurants with questions related to operating.

“We know that it’s challenging for restaurants and food retailers to keep up with the ever-changing regulations and guidelines,” said Lori Murphy, WCCHD Environmental Health Services Division Director. “We’re trying to assist businesses with a direct line connecting them to our environmental health professionals will help them to safely re-open and operate.”

Supervisor, Jovette Newton, answering a hotline call

Since launching, the hotline has heard from some restaurant owners mostly wondering what practices they could be doing to keep their customers safe.

One call in particular, according to Murphy was from a restaurant saying they had a customer who identified as being a COVID positive patient, and went to get carry out food anyways, violating his quarantine order. The county advised them to shut down long enough to establish his contact with employees and the facility was minimal.

Starting Friday, May 8. Governor Abbott’s new order includes swimming pools. Swimming pools may operate at up to 25% of the total listed occupancy of the pool facility; local public swimming pools may so operate only if the local government says they can.

In Austin, according to city leaders swimming pools will not be allowed to open. There’s been a disconnect between what Governor Greg Abbott said can reopen and what cities like Austin are actually choosing to reopen.

“We are not going to reopen anything more than what we have already open because we think that’s the safest thing to do,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said.

In Williamson County, however, the health district plans to use its business hotline to additionally advise people operating pool facilities. The Williamson County Environmental Health Services Division oversees the Public Swimming Pool Program.

“We expect the pools to be frequently disinfected and contact surfaces to be cleaned,” said Lori Murphy. “We’ve learned that it’s not the water that spreads COVID. It will be common areas like the locker rooms and guards rails.”

Registered Sanitarian, David Urban.

Many city-run pools have said they’re not ready to make the move. Round Rock city pools, for example, won’t be open up until Memorial Day.

Public and semi-public pools and spas are facilities operated by a City or County agency, a Homeowners Association, Apartments/Condos or hotels. They each individually are free to make their own decisions.

More information to calculate capacity is available on www.wcchd.org.

The hotline can be reached at 512-248-7600 and will be staffed 8 a.m.- 4 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 EH@wilco.org.

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