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> COVID19 Environmental Health Services during COVID-19

2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Environmental Health Services during COVID-19

Environmental Health Division
Program Information & Operations Guidance

EH homepage

EH Administration

Update 3/15/21:

The Tompkins County Health Department is not currently open to the public. Arrangements can be made for submitting permit applications and payments if the applicant is unable to do so remotely. Services continue to be provided in all program areas either remotely or in person in the field.

Children's Camps

Updated 3/15/21

We encourage you to please continue to submit your applications as in previous years if you think you might operate. Changes to permit applications for 2021 camps will be conveyed as we receive guidance. Please contact our office if you have questions; call 607-274-6688 or email.

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Fitness Centers

Updated 3/16/21

Fitness Centers and Gyms may be open in accordance with New York State guidance for Gyms and Fitness Centers and with the following conditions:

  • A COVID-19 safety plan is submitted to our office
  • Adjustments to the air handling systems are approved by our office
  • A pre-opening inspection of the exercise space is completed

Note that an operational inspection will also be conducted.

Food Program:

Updated 3/19/21

Resources for Food Services in NYS:

Guidance issued by the NYS Departments of Health and of Ag & Markets

Fact sheets from Tompkins County Environmental Health

IMPORTANT: If a laboratory confirmed case of COVID-19 works in your facility or was known to be present in your facility, promptly notify Environmental Health (607-274-6688 anytime) for instructions on how to proceed

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Gathering Restrictions 

New York State recently announced changes to gathering limitations during the COVID emergency. The changes take effect over the period of March 15 to April 2, 2021, and cover the following:

These changes and their effective dates are summarized below. Other COVID restrictions in addition to these capacity limits may also apply. Read the full guidance reference for more detail and to understand additional requirements.

Social distancing and face coverings will be required by all attendees, as well as strict adherence to all applicable Department of Health guidance.

Residential Gatherings
Social Gatherings in Public Spaces

All mask and social distancing requirements remain in effect


All mask and social distancing requirements remain in effect

Events, Arts & Entertainment Venues
(under 10,000 person seating)
  • Effective Date: 4/2/2021
  • Size Limit: 100; up to 150 with testing
  • Capacity Limit: 33%
  • Current NYS Source for Guidance
  • Effective Date: 4/2/2021
  • Size Limit: 200; up to 500 with testing
  • Capacity Limit: 33%
  • Current NYS Source for Guidance
Family Entertainment Centers/ Places of Public Amusement
  • Effective Date: 3/26/2021
  • Size Limit:
  • Capacity Limit: 25% indoors; 33% outdoors
  • Current NYS Source for Guidance

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Restaurant and Catered Events

As of February 24, 2021, New York State has updated the COVID-19 guidance for food service establishments to allow weddings and other in-person sit-down events with capacity limits to be held beginning March 15, 2021.  For information on COVID guidelines for events that are not catered or held at a restaurant, click here.

If you plan to hold a food service event (such as a wedding or other celebration) within Tompkins County that exceeds current social gathering limits, you must first complete this 3-step process.

  1. Read the detailed guidance.  Event guidance is included in the guidance for Food Service Establishments. Click Here to open the PDF.
  2. Complete the on-line Tompkins County Event notification form. Click here to open the form.
  3. Complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan for the event using the NYS Safety Plan template. Click here to open the PDF.

This safety plan must include information for your event detailing how you will comply with requirements for COVID-19 testing, collecting information for contact tracing, and social distancing.  If your event will include dancing or music, please also include information on how you will do this while complying with the NY State guidance.  Information on these topics should be included on Page 5 in the section marked “Other”.  When complete, send a copy of the plan to the Health Department.

Note that you may also be requested to submit a floor plan showing how the COVID requirements will be met.

[Updated: March 26, 2021]

The information below details some of the requirements. Facilities must also comply with the general COVID food service requirements in the NYS guidance.

Event Management
  • Indoors
    • Up to 100 people or 75% (effective 3/22/21)
    • Up to 150 people or 75% with testing (effective 3/22/21)
  • Outdoors
    • Up to 200 people or 75% (effective 3/22/21)
    • Up to 500 people or 75% with testing (effective 4/2/21)
  • Current NYS Source for Guidance
  • Limited to maximum 10 persons per table
  • Where possible, attendees should be seated at a table or area with members of their same immediate party, household or family
  • Tables must be spaced a minimum of 6’ apart (from chair back to chair back). 
  • Guests may only remove face coverings when seated at a table
Food Service
  • Sit Down Service – No restrictions within table setting
  • Buffet – Cannot be self-service.  The facility must have designated food workers at each station in order to serve food items to the guests, queue line signage and floor markings must encourage social distancing.
  • Bar Service – table service or guests must take beverages back to their table for consumption.
  • Live music performers and other entertainers must be separated from attendees by either 12’ of physical space or an appropriate solid physical barrier
  • Dancing is allowed with the following conditions:
  • Ceremonial dances by selected attendees with member of their immediate party/household or family
  • Non-ceremonial dancing is allowed, but attendees must wear face coverings and may only dance with members of their same immediate party/household/family
  • Dancing zones or areas must be clearly marked, at least 36 sq ft per table and dancers must remain in their designated zone/area.
  • Perimeter of dancing zones must be separated by at least 6’ from each other
Screening Requirements
COVID Testing for Attendees and Employees

COVID-positive guests or guests who cannot provide the information listed below MUST NOT be allowed to attend the event.

COVID positive employees and event staff, or staff who cannot provide any of the below items MUST NOT be allowed to work the event.

  • Employees and event staff include anyone who may interact with attendees and other employees, or event staff. Examples are venue staff, catering staff, bartenders, entertainers, photographers/ videographers, security personnel, parking attendants, etc.

To attend the event, guests must have one of the following 3 options:

  • Negative PCR or NAATS COVID test 72 hours prior to event, OR
  • Negative FDA authorized antigen test within 6 hours of the event, OR
  • Proof of completion of vaccine series at least 14 days prior to the event.

Employees and event staff must be tested and test negative through one of the following 2 options:

  • Diagnostic (PCR or NAATS COVID) prior to working their first event, AND be tested biweekly while continuing to work events, OR
  • Provide proof of completion of vaccine series at least 14 days prior to the event.
Health Screening of Attendees, Employees and Event Staff

Immediately before entering the event, employees, volunteers, event staff and event attendees must be screened for the following:

  • COVID-19 symptoms, such as temperature above 100.4*F, cough, loss of taste and smell, shortness of breath, etc. (Click for common symptoms)
  • Recent positive COVID-19 test results
  • Recent contact with suspected or confirmed COVID-10 positive individuals
  • Compliance with NYS travel advisory

This screening may be done remotely (by phone, online form, etc) or in person 

Screening must be conducted prior to entry to event or Workplace

Movie Theaters
  • Effective Date: 3/5/2021
  • Size Limit: 50
  • Capacity Limit: 25%
  • Current NYS Source for Guidance
    • Executive Order 202.96

Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (OWTS):

Updated 3/16/21

  • The Department is processing applications and issuing permits for all OWTS.
  • The Department will also continue to provide inspections for OWTS of any type constructed under existing permits, however, greater than average delays should be expected when scheduling inspections. 

Lastly, through the duration of the State of Emergency, in an effort to maximize social distancing, the Department is encouraging the submittal of applications through our online service ( or by mail (downloads found at*

Rabies Control

2021 Rabies Clinics for Pets:
Spring 2021 rabies clinics will continue to use the Drive Through clinic design. This was highly successful for
the 2020 clinics and will continue to be used in the future due to the positive community feedback. Please
check our rabies clinic page for all clinic updates.

AVMA Guidelines for essential veterinary services during the COVID-19 emergency


Updated 3/16/21

Recreational sports travel can resume effective 3/29/21.

Swimming Facilities

Updated 3/16/21

Swimming Pools, spas, and bathing beaches may be open as long as social distancing and enhanced cleaning measures are enacted. These measures should be included in your COVID-19 safety plan. If you are planning to reopen your pool, spa, or beach, please contact us to schedule a reopening inspection.

Please review the COVID-19 guidance for swimming pools on the NYS Department of Health Website. Continue to check this page for updated information for COVID-19 when preparing to open pools and beaches for the summer season. You may also call our office at 607-274-6688 with any questions not addressed in the guidance.

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