Management at the Derryfield Restaurant in Manchester will close the popular eatery’s indoor dining area on Monday for a “deep cleaning” after two staffers tested positive for COVID-19.
The news comes the same week that the popular Tuckaway Tavern & Butchery in Raymond temporarily closed after a bartender tested positive for the virus.
News of the impending closure at the Derryfield was announced in a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page Thursday morning.
“The Derryfield Restaurant recently confirmed two cases of COVID-19 among our staff,” read the post. “Both are doing well and are home recovering. We are currently working with Manchester Health Department. They have conducted contact tracing, and we have every reason to believe these cases are isolated.”
The post lists a series of safety protocols in place at the restaurant to ensure “the safety and health of its customers and staff above all else,” including sanitizer available for all customers and mandated for all staff, masks enforced for all staff and encouraged for customers, frequent sanitizing of all high-touch surfaces and sanitizing of tables and chairs between all seatings, and use of disposable menus and condiments.
“Additionally, out of an abundance of caution, we will close inside seating Monday, August 3rd, to undergo deep cleaning throughout the restaurant,” the post read. “The outside areas including the deck will remain open on its regular schedule. Thank you for your understanding during this challenging time.”
The post did not specify where the two staffers work in the restaurant or when they last worked before testing positive.
Efforts to reach management were unsuccessful Thursday afternoon. Restaurant staff who answered the phone told a Union Leader reporter the only information being shared at this time is included in the Facebook post.
Manchester Health Director Anna Thomas said her department is aware of the situation and has been in contact with restaurant management.
“As we have done with many businesses and food establishments, we have already been to the facility to instruct and educate the management of this establishment on disinfection protocols, following the identification of a case of COVID-19,” said Thomas. “They have been following disinfection guidelines for high- and medium-touch surfaces, including tables and chairs.”
Earlier this summer, state officials announced rules under which restaurants could reopen for indoor and outdoor dining.
Not included were any mandatory protocols for reporting to the state if a restaurant employee, such as a bartender or wait staff, tests positive for COVID-19. In those instances, the state health department is to handle contact tracing and notifications.
The New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association advises member businesses they aren’t required to notify other staff who have worked with an infected individual, according to the group’s website.
According to the NHLRA, state health investigators will ask all individuals who have tested positive a set of contact tracing questions, including whom they may have been in close contact with and who may have been exposed.
The NHLRA also tells member businesses they are not obligated to ask any staff who have worked with the infected individual to self-quarantine, advising members that a public health representative will contact the potentially affected people and provide the appropriate recommendations for testing and/or quarantine.
Asked whether city health officials should have notified the public about the Derryfield test results, Thomas said if health officials determine an infected person performed a job or interacted with people who could not be tracked down, then the state or local health department would need to make a public notification, similar to when an infectious person with tuberculosis or measles rides on a bus.
“At the present time, there is no condition that the Health Department is aware of that warrants additional action,” Thomas said. “If information were to become available to suggest that there is a risk to the public at large, the Health Department would take immediate action.”
“We do not believe the public is at any greater risk having visited this facility as they might be in the general community,” Thomas said.
On Tuesday, Tuckaway Tavern & Butchery in Raymond posted a message on its Facebook page saying that as a precaution they were closed “effective immediately until we completely disinfect and take all necessary precautions to keep both the rest of our staff and the public safe” after a bartender tested positive for COVID-19.
That post provided the public with the last two days the employee worked, and what areas of the restaurant they were in.
Ownership said they had communicated with the Centers for Disease Control and “have been assured we are taking the exact precautions they would expect out of a responsible business.”
Tuckaway’s butchery reopened Thursday for curbside pickup, though the tavern area will remain closed as ownership monitors COVID-19 test results and staffing.
“A large majority of our staff has already voluntarily gone and been tested and we have had nothing but negative results thus far,” read an updated social media post from Tuckaway ownership. “The rest have been advised to stay home until they receive their results.”
The post credited a company called Household Environmental with “fogging” the entire building with an all-natural agent “approved by the EPA for killing COVID both in the air and surfaces.”
The posts stated that in the future, masks will be required by all cashiers and butchery employees as an “extra layer of protection.”
“We will just make it clear that our employee who was infected WAS fully masked on the tavern side, as are ALL of our restaurant staff as advised by the state,” the post states.
Health officials have said they do not believe COVID-19 can be spread via food, food packaging or water.