More COVID-19 Cases Connected To Portsmouth Restaurants | New Hampshire Public Radio

More COVID-19 Cases Connected To Portsmouth Restaurants

Oct 14, 2020

Credit CDC

Two additional restaurant employees at Flatbread Company in Portsmouth have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Jason Lyon, company president and COO.

The new positive tests come after one staff member at Flatbread Company in Portsmouth initially tested positive this weekend. All other staff were encouraged to quarantine and get tested, even if they did not come in contact with the infected employee. 

Lyon said all staff members are subject to daily wellness checks before starting their shifts, and the two new infected employees had passed their wellness checks on the last shifts they worked.

“One started feeling symptoms days after our closure; the other felt symptoms the day we closed and did not report to work because of a runny nose and itchy throat which the individual believed was due to seasonal allergies but out of caution was told to not report to work since runny nose is one of C19 symptoms,” Lyon wrote in an email. He added that the two staff did not work together in the past few weeks, but socialized frequently outside of work.

Flatbread and three other restaurants in Portsmouth -- the Rosa, Martingale Wharf and Jumpin’ Jay’s Fish Cafe -- temporarily closed this weekend over COVID-19 concerns. The Rosa, where one staff member tested positive, announced on Facebook that it would reopen for takeout only Wednesday evening.

Flatbread’s Portsmouth location plans to reopen Friday for takeout only throughout the weekend with staff members who showed negative test results and did not come in contact with the three infected staff.

In a statement to NHPR, the Department of Health and Human Services communications director, Jake Leon, confirmed that additional cases were connected to the Portsmouth restaurants but did not specify how many, as case investigations are still ongoing.

“We have learned of additional close contacts who may have been exposed as well as additional cases of COVID-19 connected to the people initially identified as cases connected to the restaurants in Portsmouth. This outreach is ongoing and there may be additional exposures identified during the course of these investigations,” Leon wrote.

Lyon, Flatbread’s president, says he is now considering more regular testing of employees under their insurance plan, something the restaurant didn’t require before news of the positive tests. He added that Gov. Chris Sununu’s guidelines made it difficult to make sure employees are being safe outside the workplace.

“These guidelines mandate that the employer requires its employees to social distance at work and/or wear masks; however, with the absence of a statewide mandatory mask mandate individuals are left to their own devices once they leave the work environment,” he said.