NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A North Providence diner reopened for business Tuesday after its owner says he resolved COVID-19 safety violations uncovered by the Rhode Island Department of Health.
According to the compliance order issued to Avenue Grille, a state inspection conducted on June 29 in response to a complaint found the Mineral Spring Avenue establishment was “not following any COVID-19 regulations.”
“Staff were not wearing masks,” the order states. “No sanitizing of counters/high touch surfaces was observed. Self seating was observed. Staff heard saying they were purposefully not following COVID-19 regulations.”
The order says the inspector also observed that tables were not spaced far enough apart or separated by barriers, there was a lack of required signage, and the diner had not performed a thorough cleaning prior to reopening.
The owner, Kevin Carbone, reportedly told the inspector he believed COVID-19 is a hoax and that “the people that have died were going to die anyway,” according to the order.
On July 7, the inspector returned to the restaurant and determined it was still not in compliance, with the only change made since the first inspection being signs posted at the entrance. As a result, the Health Department ordered the restaurant to close down until they demonstrated appropriate changes were made.
The owner told Eyewitness News Tuesday morning that RIDOH is allowing the diner to reopen after speaking with the state on Monday. He says the Department of Health gave him the clear to reopen after showing he made the proper adjustments.
According to Carbone, the state was accusing him of two violations and that they were only misunderstandings. He added that he never said and does not believe that COVID-19 is a “hoax.”
The restaurant has been given approval to reopen,” Joseph Wendelken, spokesman for RIDOH told Eyewitness News. “We had an inspector on-site yesterday.”
Wendelken continued saying the diner will be, “appropriately spacing tables and parties, and has a plan to ensure that employees and patrons are wearing masks, among other measures.”
Earlier this month, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced the state would be cracking down on restaurants and bars not complying with the state’s rules and regulations put in place to prevent the spread of the virus. She said if an establishment is found to be blatantly disregarding the rules, they would be issued a compliance order or a fine, and multiple violations could result in the establishment being temporarily shut down.