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Non-profit aims to validate restaurants that are following CDC, FDA guidelines

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TUCSON - One local teen has started a non-profit aimed at validating restaurants that comply with all of the restaurant operation-related FDA and CDC guidelines.

Drew Messing is a 16-year-old student who is entering his senior year at the Gregory School. The 16-year-old decided to start the non-profit Covid Clean after he went to pick up to-go food for his family and noticed that not all restaurants were following the same guidelines.

Messing started the organization just over six weeks ago. In that time, the 16-year-old had about 40 restaurants sign up for his service.

"It's in our best interest to follow these guidelines and adhere to them as much as possible," aid Justin Fernandez, General Manager at Tavolino Ristorante. "(We want to) take it a step further because we do deeply care about our businesses and just keeping the community safe because, without them, we have nothing."

To get a passing grade from Covid Clean, restaurants must meet several requirements, including requiring staff to wear face coverings and frequently wash their hands.

"I thought there was really this great need for Covid Clean because a lot of people are nervous about going in and dining in at restaurants, ordering take-out food," Messing said. "So what Covid Clean does is it provides confidence to consumers that restaurants are doing the right thing."

When restaurants sign the Covid Clean pledge, they agree to random inspections. Messing said this ensures the restaurants stick to the guidelines.

"If a restaurant fails a Covid Clean inspection, in the next 48 hours, they'll be inspected again," he said. "If they fail for a second time, they'll be off the Covid Clean list."

Restaurants who pass get a validation sticker to place on their window. As the organization grows, Messing plans to enlist volunteers to help with the effort.

"You know, I'm born and raised in Tucson and I just wish the best for the town," Fernandez said. "I know it's gonna take some time to heal everything, but we're here together we're in this together and we'll get through it."

This is a free service, but Covid Clean is accepting gift cards that will be redistributed to restaurant employees who are not currently working.

For the full list of restaurants, requirements and how to get in contact, visit

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Mark Mingura

Mark Mingura joined KVOA as a Multi Media Journalist in October 2019. Originally from the valley and with ties to Tucson, Mark is excited to get back to his home state and tell the stories of the Old Pueblo.

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