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“Nationals October 2019

Owners temporarily close 2 area restaurants when employees test positive for COVID

| June 22, 2020, 12:35 PM

Rams Head

Two popular area restaurants were temporarily closed due to employees testing positive for the COVID-19 virus. Per CDC recommendations, both establishments closed for a period of time to completely re-sanitize the facilities and to have all employees tested for the virus.

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Rams Head

Stoney River Steakhouse in the Annapolis Mall posted the notice to their Facebook page on Thursday afternoon that an employee had tested positive.

By Sunday, they were open once again for carry-out only and any decision on Monday operations had not been determined.

Across the Severn River, the iconic Red Hot & Blue notified their customers and Facebook audience last night that an employee had tested positive.

As of Sunday, June 21, the restaurant was still closed and not accepting orders.

Legal Concerns

We asked Scott MacMullan with Scott MacMullan Law in Annapolis about the liability issue if it were determined that someone contracted COVID while at a restaurant. “I think that’s an open question and I’ve been advising and helping my business client’s with specifically tailored COVID-19 waivers to help limit their risk and liability. As everyone is aware (including judges) these are unprecedented times and there isn’t a playbook for businesses and restaurants.”

When asked about mitigating the risk, “The best way to limit your risk is to institute protocols in your business that are based on CDC, State and County recommendations and to limit your liability through waivers that your customers sign, when possible. Until there is a vaccine, there is no foolproof way of stopping the spread of the virus.”

Health Department Does Not Monitor Restaurant Closures

The steps these two restaurants are taking are above and beyond what the CDC recommends. And according to Elin Jones, the Public Information Director for the Anne Arundel County Department of Health, they do not monitor restaurants for COVID related closings.

The Department of Health Environmental Health Bureau maintains information on food service closures related to critical violations. The bureau does not maintain information on restaurants that are closed due to COVID-19 disinfecting.

Of course, any business owner can make more cautious decisions to clean the establishment and protect employees and their customers. We encourage businesses to take additional steps to ensure the safety of staff and customers.

There isn’t a set testing protocol but universal testing of staff in this situation is the prudent step to take.

Does this present a problem for contact tracing? Contact tracing is where the health department contacts those who were in close proximity of an infected person to have them self-isolate for a period or to obtain a test on their own. We asked about people slipping through the cracks, perhaps by the restaurant not knowing the identity of every guest either when someone pays in cash or checks are split.

When anyone, who lives or works in Anne Arundel County, tests positive for COVID-19, our contact tracers follow up with the case’s contacts that were possibly exposed at work as well as in any other environment, such as home.  If there is any individual customer that is clearly identified as a close contact of the case, that customer is notified in order to self-quarantine and get tested.

Rams Head

Category: Businesses, COVID, LIFE IN THE AREA, Local News, NEWS, Post To FB

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