May 8, 2020

Tom Kunesh, Environmental Health Supervisor
Whatcom County Health Dept
(360) 778-6034

Whatcom County Provides Relief for Food Establishments by Extending Permit Expiration Dates

On May 5, 2020, the Whatcom County Council approved an amendment to County Code that provides a six-month extension of operating permits for some food establishments, granting relief from annual fees that would otherwise be due during that time.

Eligible businesses whose operating permits expire between March 1, 2020 and February 28, 2021 will receive the extension. The eligible food establishments include taverns; simple, moderate, and complex menu restaurants; food trucks; and food establishment bars and additional kitchens.

The permit term extension does not apply to supermarkets and convenience stores without deli operations.

Executive Sidhu provided earlier relief on April 21 with an executive order delaying permit fee payments for restaurants and taverns until July 1. Late fees assessed against these businesses between February 1 and April 30 because of a failure to pay for permit renewals will be waived, and no additional late fees will be charged until after February 28, 2021.

The food service industry is an important part of our county’s economy. This order provides restaurant owners some relief while they weather the economic consequences of COVID-19. As more Whatcom County residents have been observing Governor Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, food establishments have not been able to operate at full capacity. Businesses affected by loss of revenue may be unable to pay for an operating permit renewal. By extending permit expiration dates by six months, Whatcom County Health Department aims to reduce the financial impacts for local businesses. Due to these permit extensions, the county’s 2020 revenue will see a reduction of approximately $327,000.

The full text of Whatcom County Ordinance 2020-022 to Provide Permitting Relief to Food Establishments is available on the Whatcom County website.

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
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