Three restaurants in Cherokee County have temporarily closed after employees at each facility tested positive for COVID-19.

According to posts on their respective social media feeds, PURE Taqueria, 405 Chambers St. and Century House Tavern 125 E. Main St. in Woodstock, along with The Butcher and Bottle 3568 Sixes Road, Canton, had employees test positive for the virus. In response, all three restaurants announced they would be temporarily closing for the health and safety of both employees and guests.

In a post from Century House on June 27, the employee affected by COVID-19 has been in isolation for approximately one week and that “Our first priority is to protect our staff and our patrons. At this time we are closing the restaurant and will have all of our staff members tested as soon as possible. We will reopen when we feel it is safe to do so. Thank you for your understanding.”

That same day, a similar post from The Butcher and Bottle appeared.

“This is a first for us and we are taking every measure to ensure the safety of our staff and guests and therefore, we are temporarily closing, effective immediately,” the post read. “Moving forward the building will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized using medical grade disinfectant. Additionally, we will require team members to get tested with negative results before returning. We will do our utmost to reopen quickly but only after ensuring a safe environment for you and our team. We take the health of you and your family seriously and appreciate the trust you place in us. Thanks very much for your understanding.”

In a subsequent post, The Butcher and Bottle said a cleaning team from BioOneCherokeeCounty had been to the restaurant and had sanitized the facility. The post also reminded patrons and fans to keep watching for additional updates on when the restaurant could be reopening, while also thanking everyone for sharing their support over the past several days.

In a post shared Sunday afternoon, PURE Taqueria said it would be closed Monday for cleaning and so the restaurant could determine its next moves going forward. The post also addressed information that had been spreading about the restaurant in recent days.

“News has been circulating that employees at PURE Woodstock have tested positive for COVID-19 and that our team has been asked not to tell anyone,” the post explained. “Many have reached out to confirm whether or not this is true. While I (the restaurant’s Steve Wright) wish I could say that nobody has tested positive and/or that our communication and response was completely effective, two of our team members did recently test positive and our response regarding the matter was not as clear as it should have been.”

Wright wrote that the restaurant’s staff was informed that two members had tested positive, although the names of those employees could not be disclosed. Any employee who was concerned about the news did not have to work and would have access to a COVID-19 test at PURE’s expense. Despite this, the post said the restaurant’s response to both employees and the community could have been better.

“I want you to know that PURE Woodstock sincerely values the health and safety of our staff and patrons,” the post continued. “We have and will continue to follow guidance from local, state and other government agencies. Our COVID-19 precautions include pre-shift temperature and symptom checks, mandatory mask and glove wearing, company funded COVID testing and compliance with the CDC return to work guidelines, in addition to a mandatory negative test for any employee who tests positive. While we are not perfect, we will continue to improve and work diligently to provide a healthy environment for everyone during these difficult times.”

A thorough cleaning and sanitizing of all surfaces of a restaurant where an employee has tested positive for COVID-19 is one of the most vital points contained within the guidelines used by health agencies such as the North Georgia Health District.

According to Raymond King, the Environmental Health Director for the North Georgia Health District, when a restaurant employee tests positive for the virus, that employee has to be sent home immediately. Along with this, health officials then speak with the restaurant’s manager to determine who might have been in close contact with the infected individual (defined as anyone who worked within six feet of the COVID-positive employee for a period of at least 15 minutes) and strongly encourage that all employees at the restaurant be tested for the virus.

One recent change to the guidelines put forth is that employees who may have been in close contact with the infected individual may continue to keep working, so long as they remain symptom-free and are required to wear a mask. Once the sanitation is completed, it is essentially left up to the restaurant when they want to reopen, King explained.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, as of Monday afternoon there had been 1,283 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in Cherokee County and 44 deaths.

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