▶️ Restaurant to have entire staff tested after employee contracts COVID

A Bend restaurant is closing while its entire staff is tested and cleared for COVID after a colleague tested positive earlier this week.

In a Facebook post, The Blacksmith announced to fans the employee worked July 10th and 11th, but did not have any direct contact with guests.

“If you dined with us on those dates and feel you need to be tested, contact your health care provider,” the post said.

Earlier this week the restaurant closed after learning the employee had been exposed to someone with the virus while working a side-gig.

“I didn’t want anyone to think we were trying to hide anything or be deceitful,” co-owner Nekole Bardwell said Friday. “Everyone is so confused about what to do, and I just said, you know what, honesty is the best policy, I’m just putting it out there.”

Bardwell said she spent hours on the phone with the health department and they’ve given advice, but haven’t given many directives for what to do next.

“I’ve talked to so many people, everyone has different advice. There is not a lot of requirements, there are suggestions,” she said. “A lot is up to the digression of the businesses, and everything we have to do is judge up to our moral compass.”

Bardwell said the health department didn’t require everyone to get tested, nor did they require Blacksmith to shut down.

The health department only requires that people who came within 6 feet of distance of the infected person are tested and self-quarantine.

But she wanted to be safe rather than sorry.

“The hard part is the kitchen is small. Even though people can say they stayed six feet away, that wasn’t enough for me,” she said.

She aims to open the restaurant sometime next week, only with employees who tested negative.

“I love my employees, but I cannot control what they do. Unfortunately they can do what they want when they step outside my establishment. This is something all restaurants will have to face, and until they do, you really can’t wrap your head around it.”

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