Chicago…Initial inspections of plants and facilities to determine the kashrus status must still be done in person, despite the pandemic. After a careful internal review, the AKO (Association of Kashrus Organizations) Executive and COVID-19 committees concluded that going forth, all initial inspections should not be conducted virtually (i.e., via video call), and must be in-person. An exception to this rule would be “Group 1” products (inherently kosher). However, this exception is not the official stance or standard across all agencies. It is merely a concession that is to be used with discretion, in extenuating circumstances. These committees will continue to closely monitor the changing global conditions and advise as appropriate. AKO executives warned that failure to comply with this ruling may be grounds for expulsion from AKO.