Local firms temporarily close after workers test positive or are exposed

A “closed” sign hangs in the door of Tapped Taphouse and Kitchen on Tuesday in Moscow. The business said on its Facebook page that it’s temporarily closed after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

Several local businesses have closed in recent days because of COVID-19 risks as the area has seen a recent uptick in cases.

Tapped Taphouse and Kitchen, located in Moscow, stated on Facebook that one of its employees who worked in the restaurant June 23, 24 and 25 tested positive for COVID-19.

“We are following Public Health guidelines and will be closing today, and possibly for the next two weeks, while our team quarantines,” the restaurant stated.

Public Health – Idaho North Central District stated in a news release that it has not been able to identify all individuals who may have been exposed to this employee. It stated that Tapped has been cooperative in this investigation.

“Positive cases within a business, regardless of industry, do not indicate wrongdoing on behalf of the business,” the Public Health – Idaho North Central District wrote in the news release. “People can become exposed to and transmit the virus to others in any setting.”

Other Moscow businesses, such as Nectar and Gem State Crystals, also announced on social media they have temporarily closed their doors.

The restaurant Nectar announced June 25 it had closed after one of its employees came into contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus. As of Tuesday, the restaurant remained closed.

The business stated on Facebook it will be sanitizing the restaurant and going “above and beyond local, state and federal guidelines to protect our guests and restaurant family.”

Gem State Crystals announced it is temporarily closing to ensure its employees are in good health as there has been a recent uptick of COVID-19 cases on the Palouse.

The restaurant La Casa Lopez stated on Facebook it is suspending its dine-in service and only offering curbside takeout in response to the current spread of COVID-19 in the area. Moscow restaurant Hunga Dunga Brewing Company is also closing its indoor seating, the business announced Tuesday.

There have been 16 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Latah County this year. Two new confirmed cases and four probable cases were reported Tuesday by Public Health – Idaho North Central District. Three of these cases are children under 10 years old. The three other patients are under 50 years old.

According to Public Health – Idaho North Central District, the latest patients are recovering at home.

The number of confirmed cases in Latah County has doubled since June 22.

There have been 39 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Whitman County. Whitman County Public Health reported one new confirmed case on Tuesday. It is a male between ages 60-79 and he is stable and isolating at home.

There have been no deaths in Whitman and Latah counties.

In Pullman, The Coug recently closed for several days because of COVID-19 risks. It reopened Tuesday.

The restaurant on College Hill closed last week after it was notified one of its customers had tested positive for COVID-19.

“We waited to reopen until we were able to ensure our entire staff tested negative for COVID-19,” The Coug’s social media manager Lance Lijewski told the Daily News on Tuesday.

Lijewski said the restaurant’s policies since May include checking the temperature of everyone who enters The Coug and requiring them to sign in for contact tracing. Employees have been wearing masks and gloves and, recently, The Coug announced it is requiring customers to wear masks any time they are not actively eating or drinking.

The Coug is allowing 35 people inside the building, which is well below the 75 percent capacity that is allowed for restaurants under Phase 3 of Washington’s phased reopening plan, according to The Coug’s website. Lijewski said these restrictions are in place to ensure social distancing in The Coug’s small dining area.

The Coug has posted its rules on its website and on social media. Lijewski said The Coug is trying to be as transparent as possible and is working toward setting an example in the community as a responsible business.

However, the restaurant’s public image is a secondary priority, he said.

“Our top priority is thinking about the health and safety of our staff and customers,” Lijewski said.

Anthony Kuipers can be reached at akuipers@dnews.com.

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