Some dining rooms close as COVID impacts Horry Co. service industry

Coronavirus

LONGS, SC (WBTW) – Some restaurant dining rooms are temporarily closing after the service industry in Horry County was impacted by COVID-19.

Over the weekend several restaurants announced their temporary closure when employees tested positive for the coronavirus.

Other businesses have closed their dining rooms and opted for take-out or delivery services.

Chris’ Pizza and Pub in Longs made the decision on Monday to close their dining room until further notice.

“We want you here, but we are looking out for your safety at the same time,” said manager Rachael Ramsey.

Staff at Chris’ have not tested positive for the virus, but are hoping to flatten the curve of exposure.

“You have to look out for your business, but at the same time you need to have morals. You need to have values,” said Ramsey.

South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control says businesses are not required to close in the event that an employee tests COVID positive.

In a statement to News13 the department said:

“DHEC’s epidemiologists and contact tracers connect with every person in the state who tests positive for COVID-19 and conduct confidential interviews in order to help them protect themselves as well as to identify close contacts who need to be notified and counseled by our contact tracing team. So, if a restaurant employee were to test positive, the restaurant wouldn’t have to notify us — we would already have been in contact with the positive case. During those confidential over-the-phone interviews, we work to identify any close contacts to the individual, and we would reach out to those close contacts as well to make any necessary recommendations for protecting themselves. Those close contacts could include coworkers of the individual.

We also would reach out to the restaurant (or other place of business) to provide guidance for the steps to take if/when an employee were to test positive. This guidance protects both staff and customers. Having a food worker test positive doesn’t mean everyone in the facility was at risk for coming into contact with the virus. Through our case investigation, once we learned the individual was a food worker, we would provide the most current recommendations — such as cleaning and disinfecting — to the restaurant employer; however, the restaurant wouldn’t have to shut down or close to perform the cleaning. Some restaurants choose to voluntarily close temporarily.

COVID-19 isn’t a food-borne illness. It’s mostly contracted by coming into close contact (closer than six feet) for an extended period of time (at least 15 minutes) with an individual infected with the virus.”

S.C State Emergency Response Team

An updated list of guidelines for restaurants impacted by COVID can be found here.

Horry County officials say there are no plans yet to implement restrictions or executive orders as positive case numbers continue to rise.

“However, we are really encouraging folks to pay attention to the data. To listen to DHEC. Follow the guidance about proper social and physical distancing,” said county spokesperson, Kelly Moore.

While not required, Ramsey says restaurants with positive cases are doing the right thing by closing.

“Keeping your business open could cause more cases from everybody coming in, or if your staff is sick, giving it to other staff members,” said Ramsey.

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