Inverness restaurant shuts down temporarily after patron failed to self-isolate
'I'm sad that … someone was selfish enough to kind of walk out and put everybody else at risk potentially'
A popular Inverness, N.S., restaurant has closed its doors temporarily after staff discovered a patron had come in from outside the Atlantic bubble and did not follow proper public health protocols.
The Route 19 Brewing Tap and Grill closed on Monday and it's not known when it will reopen, Stefan Gagliardi, the company's chief beer officer, said Tuesday.
"We're dealing with someone who didn't self-isolate properly," he said. "We don't know that we are dealing with an individual who has contracted the virus."
Route 19's brewery is a separate operation from the restaurant, and is still brewing and distributing beer.
Gagliardi said the customer was in the restaurant on Sunday and a staff member overheard the person later that day saying they had just recently arrived from outside the Atlantic region.
The business was closed for deep cleaning on Monday, but the 35-40 staff members did not feel comfortable coming back into work the next day, so the owners decided to remain closed, he said.
Public health officials were notified, but Gagliardi said staff are not required to self-isolate and do not qualify for testing unless they show symptoms.
RCMP in Inverness investigated on Monday and charged an individual with failing to comply with the 14-day self-isolation requirement under the Health Protection Act, said RCMP Cpl. Lisa Croteau.
The individual who caused the closure is not just hurting the business, though, Gagliardi said.
"It's a family-run business and there's a lot of people working for us ... and everybody that's sitting at home not working is not collecting a paycheque right now," he said.
"I'm sad that people couldn't follow the rules in such hard times already and that someone was selfish enough to kind of walk out and put everybody else at risk potentially."
Route 19 says people have been supportive
The company posted a notice about the closure on its Facebook page on Tuesday and Gagliardi said the public comments have mostly been positive.
"Hopefully, people are supportive and when we get back up and running, they're not scared of us," he said. "That's the biggest fear in all this and so far, people have been supportive online."
The company is working with public health officials and its staff to determine when the restaurant can reopen, but it could be closed up to 14 days, unless the individual tests negative for COVID-19 before then and alerts the brewery, Gagliardi said.
"As the day progresses and tomorrow comes, maybe we'll have more information, but right now, we really don't have more than that," he said.
Closure a 'tough decision'
COVID-19 initially shut down the hospitality industry and while businesses have slowly opened up, they have been at lower capacity than usual and customers are not all coming back right away.
Gagliardi said it hurts having to completely shut down again.
"It was a tough decision," he said. "The owners and I had a really big discussion yesterday, and it's the only thing that made sense. It's not our fault that someone didn't follow the rules."
A business does not have to close if it finds a customer has not completed self-isolation, said Marla MacInnis, who speaks for the province's public health department.
However, it is "concerning to hear there are individuals not adhering to self-isolation orders," she said, because, while the numbers in Nova Scotia are low, "COVID-19 remains an ongoing threat to our communities and businesses."
Inverness County Coun. Jim Mustard said it is unsettling to find out someone did not follow the rules.
"It just shows a level of disrespect that someone wouldn't take that two weeks that everyone here expects people to do ... just to safeguard our population," he said.
However, it was also good to hear the company took the incident seriously, Mustard said.
"I think for the community to just know that's the level that people are being conscious of what's going on in the community just gives us a sense of confidence going forward that we're going to be looking out for each other," he said.
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