After discovering their employees had tested positive for Covid-19, a handful of restaurants in Montauk temporarily closed up shop late last month and early this month.
"For the most part, establishments have voluntarily closed to clean/disinfect the workplace following the notification that an employee tested positive for Covid-19," Gioia Knutson, a spokesperson from the Suffolk County Health Department, explained in an email. The department "is responsible for conducting in-depth investigations for any Covid-19 outbreak. This includes interviewing the positive case, eliciting contacts, and performing daily monitoring. Determinations about facility closures are made on a case-by-case basis, usually in consultation with" the New York State Department of Health.
West Lake Fish House, Inlet Seafood Restaurant, 668 the Gig Shack, and the Dock, all in Montauk, each announced their closings on social media in late August, telling followers they would be closed indefinitely while taking the appropriate measures to sanitize their businesses and test their employees.
While some recent customers had questions about the likelihood that they had come in contact with Covid-positive staffers, the vast majority of the eateries' followers shared messages of support and thanked them for getting the word out.
Ms. Knutson could not provide the total number of positive cases recorded and was unable earlier this week to confirm how many restaurants had been impacted or to name them specifically.
On Aug. 25, the Dock announced on its social media pages that two members of its staff, "a mother and a son," had tested positive for the virus and were in quarantine. Both had been asymptomatic, but learned their results from "a routine check," wrote the Watson family, which owns the restaurant. "We will be temporarily closed and will retest all remaining staff members and deep clean the premises. We will reopen as soon as it is safe."
On Aug. 28, West Lake Fish House announced that one of its staff members had also tested positive for Covid-19 and that "all our crew will be tested tomorrow." The next day "after a deep cleaning and our staff getting negative results on Covid," the restaurant announced that the dining room would be reopened for dinner.
The same day the West Lake Fish House reopened, 668 the Gig Shack closed after an employee tested positive for Covid. "All staff will be retested tomorrow and the premises deep cleaned before reopening. Know that the safety of our staff, our patrons, and our community is of utmost importance to us. Stay safe and we will see you very soon when all is clear!" the restaurant wrote on its Instagram account. It reopened on Sept. 1, after sharing that "all working staff have tested negative for Covid-19."
Last Thursday, Inlet Seafood on East Lake Drive closed after a member of its "front of house" staff tested positive. "We will be conducting a thorough sanitization throughout the building. We expect to reopen on Saturday as usual," it posted on its Instagram account on Sept. 2. However, on Sunday it said it would be "closed until further notice."
"We have sanitized the restaurant and are awaiting retest results of all staff before reopening."
After multiple attempts to reach out, none of the businesses were available to respond for comment.
The New York State Department of Health requires that restaurants notify the state and their local Health Department upon being informed of any positive test result by a worker at their location. They must also work closely with the Health Department to trace all contacts in the workplace.