Vancouver's Craft Beer Market has been closed temporarily after two members of staff and six customers reported symptoms of norovirus, also known as Norwalk or stomach flu.
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Vancouver Coastal Health first received reports of illness in six Craft customers on Wednesday morning, and upon visiting the restaurant in Olympic Village, discovered two staff members had shown the same symptoms.
No official cause for the illnesses has yet been confirmed, but Craft, located at West 1st Avenue at Salt Street, has now been issued with a temporary closure notice by Vancouver Coastal Health.
In an email statement, Vancouver Coastal Health communications leader Tiffany Akins said the order will allow for cleaning and sanitizing the whole establishment and discarding any potentially contaminated food.
"The closure order will be lifted when conditions of the order have been met and VCH is satisfied the risk of transmission of norovirus has been mitigated," said Akins.
In a press release issued on the Craft Facebook page, owner and operator Scott Frank said the health and safety of guests and staff were his top priority at all times.
“Although it is suspected stomach flu, we are unsure of its origin and type," said Frank. "On the advice of Vancouver Coastal Health, we are closing... to avoid any contraction from our guests.”
According to the company, one staff member was sent home on Sunday after falling ill, while the other felt sick before work on Tuesday, but improved during the day.
Norovirus — once known as Norwalk virus or stomach flu — is highly contagious and often spreads in places like schools, cruise ships and nursing homes, especially during the winter.
The stomach bug causes bouts of vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms usually appear within 24 to 48 hours of exposure and last 24 to 48 hours.
Norovirus can be spread by sharing food or cutlery with an infected person or by touching objects contaminated with the virus.
There are no drugs to treat norovirus itself, although it is important to drink lots of fluids to guard against dehydration.
Frank said the restaurant is using a bleach and water mix to clean all surfaces, including floors, walls and chairs. All plates, glasses and cutlery is also being cleaned.
“We are currently waiting to hear back from Vancouver Coastal Health on next steps,” says Frank. "We want to be as transparent as possible throughout the process.
"Our main focus is sanitizing the restaurant and addressing any issues that could affect the well being of our guests and staff.”
In its latest Facebook update on Wednesday, Craft notes managers are due to meet with VCH representatives Thursday morning and will provide a further update then.
Vancouver Coastal Health recommends anyone handling food and experiencing stomach illness with vomiting and/or diarrhea should not return to work until they have been symptom free for three days.