Chicago Coronavirus

Another Chicago Restaurant Temporarily Closes After Employee Tests Positive for Coronavirus

Replay Beer & Bourbon in the city's Andersonville neighborhood said an employee notified them Saturday night that they had tested positive for the virus despite showing no symptoms

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Another Chicago restaurant on the city's North Side has temporarily closed after announcing an employee tested positive for coronavirus over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Replay Beer & Bourbon in the city's Andersonville neighborhood said a member of their waitstaff notified them Saturday night that they had tested positive for the virus despite showing no symptoms. The employee was being tested "for another purpose," but was removed from Replay's schedule and did not have extended contact with other staff or guests while working, the restaurant said.

"While it is stressful knowing that someone on our team tested positive for COVID-19, as said above, we have been consistently operating assuming that it could be present, as every business should be, and taking the precautions needed to keep our staff and guests safe," a post on the restaurant's Facebook page read. "We will continue attempting to go the extra mile to support the comfort of our staff and guests, and are arranging to make testing available for staff members, as well. We will continue to seek the advice of professionals in the scientific community within our government and work to ensure that our actions are reflective of our concern for the safety and well-being of our staff and the public."

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The restaurant closed at 5 p.m. Sunday and plans to reopen Friday "allowing our management team a much needed break and to make up for time off that all of us had planned for but lost due to COVID-19 and our reopening."

"The procedures and practices we have in place in our businesses are based upon the assumption that everyone could be positive and a carrier of the virus, and we have acted with this in mind as we established and continue to modify our procedures to ensure the safety of the public and our staff," the restaurant wrote.

Replay noted that businesses are not required to close following a positive test, but said "we have met and gone beyond what is required" under city guidelines.

Replay's closure comes almost a week after Fork in the city's Lincoln Square neighborhood shut its doors temporarily, stating the restaurant "had exposure to Covid-19."

"The safety of our guests and staff is our top priority so out of an abundance of caution we have temporarily closed and will plan to reopen again on Wednesday, July 8th pending the staffs test results," the eatery wrote on Facebook. "We are taking the necessary steps to be able to reopen including staff testing and conducting a thorough cleaning."

It remains unclear how or when the restaurant became exposed, but the restaurant said it plans to reopen this week.

"We look forward to seeing all your smiling faces again on July 8. Thank you for your patience, support and understanding," the post read.

Last month, Longman and Eagle announced a staff member had tested positive for the virus and the restaurant would be shutting down temporarily.

"Longman & Eagle has had an employee test positive for COVID-19," the restaurant posted on Instagram. "Accordingly, we have shut our business down, effective immediately. We will remain closed until we can provide a healthy, safe working environment for our staff and then our guests. We will reopen when we — all of us — are comfortable doing so. In the meantime, staff is quarantining and being tested, and the space is undergoing a thorough sanitation. We appreciate your patience and understanding."

Outdoor dining reopened in Chicago last month and indoor dining began Friday with capacity restrictions as the city entered phase four of its reopening plan.

Some have since expressed concern over the safety of restaurant workers as reopening continues.

An employee at a popular eatery in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood published an open letter to Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot asking for specific guidelines to protect servers, bartenders and other restaurant workers in the coronavirus era.

In the passionate letter published to Medium, Don Woolf, who has worked in the food service industry for over 20 years, criticized state and city leadership for not adequately addressing the concerns of restaurant employees in their phase three recommendations.

“The guidelines do absolutely nothing to ensure the safety and health of restaurant workers. Instead, they put us in danger.”

Among several concerns, Woolf writes that the current guidance does not go far enough to hold restaurants accountable when it comes to reporting cases and protecting staff, writing management is being left to “self-monitor, self-regulate and self-police.”  

“Your favorite bistro might just be the next coronavirus hotspot, though you’ll never know it…People are broke, scared, and desperate. No one will want to lose shifts or have their restaurant shut down a second time. No one wants the publicity. No one will report COVID-19 cases.”

Woolf goes on to raise questions about how workers can protect themselves from the virus, writing guidance is limited on how to safely perform their duties beyond hand washing.  Current Illinois guidelines require servers to wear face coverings, while customers may remove theirs when seated.

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