In a July 8 email from Second Street Brewery manager Mariah Scee, SFR has learned that all scheduled employees of the company's Rufina Taproom location have tested negative for COVID-19 following concerns over a worker who had potentially come in contact with the virus at their second job at an unnamed restaurant.
Scee says the brewery is still waiting on the results of a couple employees who will not return to work just yet.
"A deep cleaning is scheduled at Rufina Taproom and kitchen, and we plan to open within the week," Scee says in the email.
This comes a mere few days after Rick Pedram, president and COO of Santa Fe Dining, parent company of New Mexican eatery Maria's, told SFR his staff had all tested negative following similar concerns. Maria's reopened earlier this week after closing over the previous weekend.
The original story follows.
COVID-19 numbers are up, tensions are high and a pair of Santa Fe restaurants announced this week they'll be temporarily closed due to the virus—a mere few days after national chain Applebee's announced it would close following four employees testing positive for COVID-19.
Locally, on the Maria's website, a popup window announces an employee has tested positive for coronavirus, and now all the restaurant's workers will receive tests. The restaurant planned to close for two days for deep cleaning and hopes to re-open for the Saturday holiday.
Meanwhile, at Second Street Brewery's Rufina Taproom, things have also come to a halt over concerns that an employee who works at another unnamed restaurant might have come in contact with the virus. Reportedly, that employee ultimately tested negative, but in a statement made online (and taped on the Rufina Taproom door), owners and managers say the business will remain closed until 100% of its staff can get tested.
"We want our employees to feel safe and supported at work, and our customers to know they are in a safe environment when they visit Second Street," the statement reads.
The original Second Street Brewery location at 1814 Second St. remains open with limited capacity and hours, and questions can be directed to manager Mariah Scee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I would say this was inevitable," says Carol Wight, executive director of the Greater Santa Fe Restaurant Association. "Likely the employees did not get it from being at [work], it's likely they were out doing something else. The chances of a customer catching something from an employee are going to be…it's not going to be that many, it's very low."
As for whether businesses are re-opening too soon, Wight says that it's no longer acceptable to expect the economy to wait.
"People are being evicted," she tells SFR. "Think about how many people are going to be homeless."
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced on Wednesday that the state's COVID-19 case numbers were increasing too rapidly and she put the brakes on Phase 2 of re-opening. If the situation did not improve, she said, more strict public health orders could return. Currently, restaurants are permitted to serve at half capacity.
Health Department Secretary Kathy Kunkel reported in the same public address that the state's "rapid response" requests for testing in workplaces had spiked.
The night before officials were "very surprised to see" 44 rapid-response testing plans. A typical day would be six or seven, a heavy day would be 15, she noted. The state has conducted 238 since May 11 on 28 different industries.
The state does not typically publicly identify the locations of businesses where employees have tested positive, but Kunkel said recent rapid responses across the state have been deployed in convenience stores, schools, retail, home healthcare, roofing, child care center, utilities, a psychiatric center, pest control and an indoor swimming school. Grocery stores were on an earlier list of rapid responses; it did not highlight restaurants.