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Prominent Coronado restaurant apologizes over transparency regarding sick employees

Posted at 4:50 PM, Jul 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-07 20:49:49-04

CORONADO, Calif. (KGTV) - Three Coronado restaurants were closed for cleaning on Tuesday after employees tested positive for the coronavirus. One of the restaurants, The Henry, is facing backlash over accusations that it was not transparent with its patrons.

On Facebook, The Henry posted the following message on Monday night.

“Coronado neighbors,

We apologize for not being more transparent with you about our first COVID positive case last week. Even though we messed up our communication, please know that we took all the right actions to make sure our guests, our employees and our restaurant space were as safe as possible before we re-opened.

We went through our entire protocol for a COVID exposure the night after we became aware one of our employees was COVID positive. This includes third-party sanitation of the restaurant, contacting all employees before they returned to work to make sure we knew who had CDC defined exposure to the COVID employee and making sure all employees had access to testing at our cost, regardless of exposure. We got lucky that we were able to get this done so quickly. That has not always been the case. In another restaurant out-of-state, we had to close a restaurant for nearly a week as we waited for the sanitation company and sufficient staff to safely reopen. No one in our industry is happy about the fact we are all getting more experienced and better at responding to COVID exposures.

Some of you have asked us why we did not notify the San Diego Health Department about the COVID positive employee. We know the employee's health care provider has notified the Health Department and that we, as employers, are not required to do so. But because of your question today and after calling the San Diego Health Department who encouraged voluntary notification, the Henry is committing to do so. With all of this in mind, this evening we notified the Health Department that we received information about a second COVID positive employee.

The employee in this second case was last in the restaurant on Thursday, July 2. We are closing the restaurant early this evening and will be proceeding with sanitation and employee contacts. This time, we do not expect to be able to complete all of these procedures before our regular opening tomorrow. The Henry will be closed until we can go through our protocols, all of which mirror the San Diego Health Department's and CDC guidance.

These are challenging times. We are learning how to do this better each day. Thank you for making us better. We hope to regain your trust and serve you again soon.”

There are now hundreds of comments from members of the public. Many of the comments express concern that The Henry waited until after the 4th of July holiday weekend to make notification.

Nearby McP’s Irish Pub and Hide Tide Bottle Shop and Kitchen were also temporarily closed for cleaning because of virus cases.

On Tuesday, McP’s Irish Pub posted the following.

“Good morning, For the health, safety and well-being of our valued customers, staff and community, McP’s Irish Pub will be closed beginning today to conduct a deep sanitization cleaning. This is being done per San Diego Co. Health Dept guidelines as one of our team members has tested positive for Covid19.
PLEASE!PLEASE!PLEASE! be safe out there and follow what is recommended, let's all be part of the solution!
See you all soon!!!”

On Monday, Hide Tide Bottle Shop and Kitchen posted the following.

“We will be closing today at 4:30 pm. Unfortunately, one of our staff tested positive for COVID-19. We are following the health department protocol and will be closed for a minimum of 48 hours for deep cleaning and time for all our staff to be tested. We will keep you posted. Please follow the rules! It's important! We care about you!”

On Tuesday, ABC10 News asked San Diego County about whether restaurants are required to notify the public about employee cases. A spokesperson for the County wrote, "We leave it to the business, ANY business, to notify their customers. If we believe there is a risk to the public beyond that which would require further notification, we would notify the public."

The County reports that medical providers are required to notify County health officials about employees who’ve tested positive. When ABC10News asked about whether restaurant employers are required to do the same, the County referred us to the state’s website which reports in part that employers should prepare to notify their local health department if there’s an outbreak or lab confirmed cases in the workplace.

On Tuesday, ABC10 News asked The Henry for an interview. A spokesperson for the restaurant group said they were too busy to do an interview. ABC10 News’ calls to Hide Tide Bottle Shop and Kitchen went unanswered. ABC10 News left a message for McP’s Irish Pub and are waiting for a response.