Chef and restaurateur Daniel Wright shut down all five of his Over-the-Rhine restaurants Tuesday to test employees for COVID-19. In a Facebook post, Wright wrote the lack of statewide and federal regulations for reopening businesses like his makes extreme caution the only viable option.
The closures were prompted by an employee at Pontiac BBQ telling Wright she had likely tested positive for COVID-19, he wrote on Facebook. She was asymptomatic and had only taken a test because of worries about potential exposure.
In response, Wright closed the five spots he owns: Pontiac, Senate, Abigail Street, Forty Thieves and the dive bar Holiday Spirits, all located in Over-the-Rhine. Every employee will receive a mandatory test.
Wright wrote testing is the only way to guarantee that his employees and customers are safe.
Each of his restaurants had already been conducting staff temperature checks, providing hand sanitizer, reducing seating capacities and requiring all staffers to wear masks.
“Masks are proven to work,” he wrote. “Temperature scans are great if people show symptoms, if not they’re obsolete. Asking our employees and our guests to take just as much care outside of our establishments as they do in our establishments only works if everyone follows through with taking personal responsibility for their safety. If you read the headlines we all know first hand that this isn’t happening.
“The only way our company can guarantee everyones (sic) safety and discovering asymptomatic employees is through mandatory testing.”
He added he was committed to taking extra steps to keep workers and visitors safe throughout the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
“What we want everyone to know that this is not something that we take lightly, this is not something we are being forced to do,” he said. “This is something we’re choosing to do ensure everyone’s safety under extraordinary circumstances.”