An Oregon sports bar and restaurant faced criticism on social media last week after some customers felt it did not disclose a staff member had tested positive for COVID-19 as quickly as it should have.
Headquarters Bar and Restaurant, 101 Concord Drive, disclosed in a July 5 post to its Facebook page that an employee received a confirmed diagnosis. It temporarily suspended dine-in service from July 2 to July 9, but the reason was not specifically stated.
Owner Jamie Bush told the Observer he did not wish to comment much beyond what had already been shared to social media.
“It turned into a firestorm already,” he said. “I have no desire to put any other statement, there’s no benefit to it.”
He said closing the restaurant temporarily was an appropriate course of action, but some patrons expressed disappointment the business was not initially more up front about why it was closing.
“When it first happened, we decided ‘We’ll just close,’ but evidently you can’t do that,” Bush said.
Its July 5 post stated that it was following the law.
“We made the decision to not cause panic by announcing the lone case to the public, as there is no indication that this employee contacted the virus while working at HQ,” the July 5 post read. “Per Dane County Public Health we are not required to report this to the public, close our business, or have all staff tested (who did not come into contact with the infected individual).”
Community members made over 100 comments on the post, which appeared to range from supportive to admonishing. Some commenters alleged the restaurant only announced an employee had been infected after the information had already filtered out into the public over Facebook.
In a July 7 Facebook post, the business outlined plans to keep customers safe after reopening its sit-down service.
Bush said he feels there has not been great leadership or direction from Public Health Madison and Dane County during the ongoing pandemic to guide his decisions as a business owner.
“We’re following Dane County health guidelines as best we can,” he said. “I make cheeseburgers for a living; this is my first pandemic.”