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What you need to know about COVID-19: October 20, 2020
Elgin Beer Project and St. Louis Grill, Oct. 1, 2020.
The Lieutenant's Pump, October 1, 2020. Jean Levac/Postmedia
Two Elgin Street bar owners say at least five restaurants had to close and have staff members tested for COVID-19 because of the actions of two irresponsible drinkers who went bar-hopping while waiting for their own test results.
The two men — regulars in their mid-40s — went out on Elgin Street last week while waiting for COVID-19 test results, both of which came back positive.
“We’ve been doing everything we’re supposed to be doing, and then to have two people come in like this and jeopardize that, it’s crazy, it’s maddening,” said one restaurateur in an interview Thursday.
The two owners spoke on the condition of anonymity because they’re concerned about further damage to their businesses.
During the past week, Deacon Brodies, Elgin Beer Project, St. Louis Bar and Grill, Lieutenant’s Pump and Waller Street Brewing all closed while staff members were tested. Some have since reopened or are about to reopen.
There’s been no evidence from completed tests that the two patrons spread COVID-19 during their Elgin Street drinking binge.
Waller Street Brewing has announced that one of its staff members has tested positive for COVID-19 and the restaurant will be closed for 14 days.
“These two guys have created a trail of havoc, destruction and chaos,” another bar owner said. He estimated that the weekend closure alone cost his bar $20,000 in sales.
The problem came to light last Friday when the two patrons let it be known that they had tested positive.
Eventually, one of those men, a public servant, admitted he had been tested Tuesday for COVID-19 after being told that he’d come into close contact with someone who had tested positive. His own test result came back late Thursday. In the interim, he had visited a number of Elgin Street bars and restaurants.
The two drinkers are known as customers who do not respect social distancing.
“There are just so many domino effects from this,” one bar owner said. Hundreds of servers, cooks and other contacts had to socially isolate and be tested for COVID-19.
“It drives me crazy: they’re government workers, working from home, and they go out and jeopardize livelihoods of all these people,” he fumed. “They’re not supposed to be out. They still go out.”
One of the two men later apologized in a text message.
“I made a mistake and now I’m trying to find ways to lessen the repurcussions,” he said. “I’m scared and I know I made a terrible mistake that has now jeopardized not just myself but my friends and their livelihoods. I never realized the far-reaching consequences of my actions. Not being symptomatic gave me a false sense of security and allowed me to make terrible decisions.”
The bar owners refused to identify the offending patrons. Both said the two men will never set foot in their restaurants again.
“I want people to know the difference between bars’ being responsible and the individuals’ coming to those bars being responsible,” one said. “We took all the steps. We’ve turned away a tonne of business because people aren’t safe enough.”
Elgin Street business owners have weathered a difficult two years. Construction closed the street and made sidewalks a challenge last year. Then COVID-19 shut down their businesses in March just as things were starting to normalize.
More turbulence could be on the horizon. The bar owners said they expect Ottawa, Toronto and Peel to return to Stage 2 restrictions next week, which limit restaurants to patio and take-out service. The three areas are considered COVID-19 hotspots.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020