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Maricopa county discusses new rules for restaurant play areas

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Maricopa County met with local restaurant owners Thursday morning to discuss proposed regulations to keep indoor play areas clean.

Under the new guidelines, play areas would be included in a restaurant health inspection. Restaurants would have to clean the area once per eight hour shirt, and would have to have hand sanitizer or a hand washing sink in that area.

“When these places buy one of these play structures, they make an agreement with the manufacturer that they will clean and maintain it,” said Dr. Erin Carr-Jordan of Chandler. “It’s already in place what they should do, so it’s nothing new, it’s already there.”

Carr-Jordan has been on a crusade to get tougher regulations in place for months now. She believes local restaurant owner have their customers’ best interests, and safety, in mind. She is just looking for something stronger in writing.

“We already have these standards in place at our restaurant,” said Don Elem, an owner of a Chandler Chick-Fil-A. “We feel having a clean bathroom, a clean playground, and a clean dining room is really what people want.”

The new rules could go in to effect later this year. However, local restaurant owners are giving feedback to make some adjustment to the proposed guidelines before they are part of the inspection. Some owners said that since they already have regulations in place, the proposed rules would be a unnecessary burden.

“It’s a little too aggressive, specifically with the things restaurants already have in place,” said Sherry Gillespie of the Arizona Restaurant Association. “Restaurants already have mandates in place to address what to do when things happen in the play area, and in the dining room, especially if they are part of a chain.”