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> COVID19 Environmental Health Services during COVID-19

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


Restaurant and Catered Events with 50 or more Persons in attendance

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 up to 150 persons 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: (need to develop this)

If you plan to hold a food service event (such as a wedding or other celebration) within Tompkins County 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 12, 2021]

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

Event Management
  • Events are limited to 50% of the maximum capacity as determined by the certificate of occupancy or 150 persons, whichever number is less. 
  • 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

Environmental Health Division Program Information and Operations Guidance
Main EH homepage

Children’s Camps, Food Program, Cleaning & Disinfecting, Mass Gatherings, OWTS, Rabies, Swimming, Water

EH Administration

Update 3/26/20:

Due to the COVID-19 State of Emergency, certain non-essential services provided by the Tompkins County Health Department will be suspended. In general, permits for new operations are not being issued. Permit renewals for existing facilities and for failed onsite wastewater treatment systems are still being processed.

Children's Camps

Updated 4/28/20

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 2020 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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Image of a poster--click to download Food Program:

Updated 4/28/20

  • Restaurants and other food services are deemed essential during the COVID-19 emergency. Food can only be provided as take-out and delivery. No food or drink may be consumed on the premises.
  • All seating areas in restaurants and hotels are to be closed for the duration of the emergency. Food trucks should avoid setting up next to picnic tables to reduce formation of groups.
  • Delivery services should avoid entering a home and maintain social distances.

The NYS Ag and Markets COVID page is updated regularly.

Cleaning and Disinfecting

As part of standard infection control practices, routine cleaning should be rigorous and ongoing. Time should be allocated daily for individuals to routinely clean. Frequently  touched  surfaces must be prioritized for routine cleaning because these surfaces can be reservoirs for germs and an exposure pathway for transmission of COVID- 19.

Cleaning and Disinfection:
  • Cleaning removes germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces or objects. Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects.
  • Individuals should use protective equipment (e.g. gloves) as recommended on product labels. Carefully read and follow all label instructions for safe and effective use.
  • Open NYS DOH and AgM guidance for important details. Click here for these and other Resources.
High-risk priority areas for cleaning and disinfecting:
  • High contact surfaces that are touched by many different people, such as light switches, handrails, cart handles, equipment buttons, shared equipment, point of sale devices, and door knobs & handles.
  • Floors and walls.
  • Trash containers.
  • Restrooms.
  • Break rooms and dining areas.
  • Lockers and locker rooms.
  • First aid station or health office
  • Heat and air conditioner vents.
  • Horizontal surfaces and light fixtures.
  • Frequently used equipment.
  • Uniform, protective equipment, and/or linens.
Frequently touched surfaces:
  • Shared equipment.
  • Counters, tables and chairs.
  • Door handles and push plates.
  • Handrails.
  • Kitchen and bathroom faucets.
  • Equipment surfaces.
  • Equipment buttons.
  • Light switches.
  • Remote controls.
  • Shared telephones.
  • Shared computers, keyboards and mice.
  • Shared electronics and phones.


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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Mass Gatherings

The maximum number allowded at a gathering depends on what phase the region is in. Please click here for the up-to-date information.

Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (OWTS):

Updated 3/26/20

  • *Effective immediately, applications for Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS) Construction Permits for new construction or conversions will not be processed until further notice.
  • The Department will continue to process applications and issue permits for replacement OWTS when sewage systems are in failure.
  • 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

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

2020 Rabies Clinics for Pets:
Due to the fluid nature of “stay at home” orders, the Tompkins County Spring rabies clinics may be cancelled or postponed. In the event of a postponement or cancellation, we will notify pre-registrations of the change in schedule. Please continue to check this page for updates.”

Swimming Facilities

Updated 3/26/20

During the current COVID-19 emergency, all gyms, fitness centers, and water parks must be closed.

Changes to lifeguard certification and opening of pools with be updated as we receive guidance. Please continue to check this page for updated information for COVID-19 and preparing to open pools for the summer season.


Updated 4/27/2020

As the COVID-19 trend continues to flatten, the Southern Cayuga Lake Intermunicipal Water Commission (SCLIWC) encourages property and/or business owners to take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of your building’s water system and devices after a prolonged shutdown.

Steps to take before your business or building reopens

Please download and consult this Prolonged Building Shutdown Reccommendation document for complete details about the areas listed below

  1. Flush your water system
  2. Clean all decorative water features, such as fountains.
  3. Ensure cooling towers are clean and well-maintained
  4. Ensure safety equipment including fire sprinkler systems, eye wash stations, and safety showers are clean and well-maintained
  5. Maintain your water system
    Consider contacting your local water utility to learn about any recent disruptions in the water supply.
  6. Ensure hot tubs/spas are safe for use

Stagnant, or standing water can cause conditions that increase the risk for growth and spread of Legionella and other biofilm-associated bacteria. When water is stagnant, hot water temperatures can decrease to the Legionella growth range (77–108°F, 25–42°C). Stagnant water can also lead to low or undetectable levels of disinfectant, such as chlorine. Ensure that your water system is safe to use after a prolonged shutdown to minimize the risk of Legionnaires’ disease and other diseases associated with water.

  1. Develop a comprehensive water management program (WMP) for your water system and all devices that use water. Guidance to help with this process is available from CDC and others.
    Water Management Program Toolkit, Hotel Guidance, Preventing Occupational Exposure to Legionella
  2. Ensure your water heater is properly maintained and the temperature is correctly set
Additional Resources


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