Temporary closure for Tuckaway Tavern in Raymond after bartender tests positive for COVID-19

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Tuckaway Tavern in Raymond. via Facebook

RAYMOND, NH – A popular local restaurant has shut down as a precautionary measure after a bartender tested positive for COVID-19.

RELATED STORY: ⇒ July 31 – State health department looking for anyone who sat at Tuckaway Tavern bar July 24-26

The Tuckaway Tavern & Butchery on Tuesday posted a notice on its Facebook page saying that, as a precaution, they were “CLOSED effective immediately until we completely disinfect and take all necessary precautions to keep both the rest of our staff and the public safe.  We will post upon reopening and appreciate your patience while we do our part.”

Later, the post was updated to provide more information.

“We have already been in communication with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and have been assured we are taking the exact precautions they would expect out of a responsible business.

“For those inquiring, the employee was a bartender on the restaurant side (fully masked) whose last shift was Sunday. They were also here Friday of last week. They had chest tightness yesterday, were tested immediately + reported their positive test results to us moments before our post.

 “In the meantime stay well. #tuckawaytandb

The announcement resulted in more than 900 comments from people applauding the restaurant’s actions and those who said over the weekend there were staff members behind the meat counters who were not wearing masks.  Others, however, noted that there was more than six feet between the counters so that masks were unnecessary.

“I think it’s awesome that you are posting this letting people know. I am sure that you have been taken all precautions to keep employees and customers safe but you don’t know what your employees are doing outside of the workplace to keep safe from virus. People shouldn’t be asking you who this person is for their privacy. Customers are not wearing masks at tables so they take that risk by dining in public during covid. Prayers for this employee and love your business,” wrote Krys Fauv.

“We were there a week ago today (our first time there and first time dining out) entire staff were wearing masks and the distancing at the bar/tables was well within 6 feet maybe more,” said Terri Molino.

State epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan, during Gov. Chris Sununu’s press conference Tuesday afternoon, said he was unaware of any COVID-19 outbreak at a New Hampshire restaurant.

Anna J. Thomas, MPH, Public Health Director for the city of Manchester, said a COVID-19 outbreak is defined  by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NH DHHS) as: 3 or more COVID-19 cases in a facility/setting (school, childcare, workplace, event). 

“To date, we have not had any outbreaks in foodservice establishments,” Thomas said Tuesday in an email concerning Manchester’s restaurants.  “Any outbreaks are reported by the NH DHHS through their Public Information Office which has been reporting when outbreaks occur or when they cannot identify potential contact to cases.”

Thomas explained the process the health department follows when it receives notice of any confirmed cases of COVID-19.  When the department is notified of a confirmed case of the disease, it begins an investigation which includes extensive interviews to determine the person’s close contacts at home, work and socially.

 A close contact is someone who is exposed to an infectious person for at least 10 minutes, while closer than 6 feet. Those contacts are then interviewed to determine if they are required to be quarantined. Everyone is offered options for testing through the city’s operated testing sites.

If the person works in food service, the city’s environmental health and infectious disease teams work with the owner/manager to:

1) assure that any people who are infectious or potentially infectious are excluded from work until they provide documentation from state public health officials that they are off isolation (case) or quarantine (exposed);

2) review and verify work schedules and job duties to determine exposure;

3) review sanitary practices including: symptom screening of employees, disinfection protocols and practices and the use of face coverings when in direct contact with customers, as required by the Governor’s Task Force.

Thomas said it is important to note that whether a facility needs to close or not, is often determined by the investigation’s findings and “most likely the impacts on the number of staff impacted i.e. if staff are quarantined, they are not available to work and may impact the establishment’s ability to function.”

If, during the course of any investigation, it was found that an employee performed a job or interacted with people who could not be tracked down (i.e. in contrast, we usually can track co-workers or attendees at an event or wedding), “then the state/local health department would need to make a public notification, similar to when an infectious person with TB or measles rides on a bus or sits in a restaurant,” she said.

Fortunately, she said, to date, COVID-19 is not known to be spread via food/water.

About this Author

Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.