Baltimore City Council Approves Restaurant Transparency Bill

The Baltimore City Council has approved a bill that will provide citizens with greater information and transparency regarding restaurants that have been closed for health code violations. As reported in The Baltimore Sun:

Under the legislation, patrons will be able to check the Health Department’s website and social media accounts for timely updates on restaurant violations, such as rat infestations or failures to keep meat cool.

The measure also requires restaurants to post notices — that can easily be seen by passersby — that explain why an establishment is closed.

“This is a huge win for transparency and for the citizens,” said Councilman Brandon M. Scott, who sponsored the measure.

The council approved the bill unanimously, without discussion. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake supports the bill and is expected to sign it into law, said her spokesman, Howard Libit.

The bill takes effect a month after the mayor signs it. It calls for information about restaurant closures to be updated on the Health Department’s website at least weekly. The agency now posts online which restaurants are closed and for what reasons only about once a month.

Under the bill, the agency also is required to publicize on at least two social media sites that a restaurant’s license has been suspended, revoked or not renewed.

Dr. Leana S. Wen, the city’s health commissioner, said the agency will be working to develop procedures and practices to carry out the measure’s requirements. She said the department must make sure the information is fair, accurate and easily accessible.

For more information read the full article in The Baltimore Sun.