National Post (Latest Edition)

Bar crawl cited as five restaurant­s shut down

- Andrew Duffy

OTTAWA • Two Ottawa bar owners say at least five restaurant­s had to close and have staff members tested for COVID-19 because of the actions of two irresponsi­ble drinkers who went bar- hopping while waiting for their own test results.

The two men — regulars in their mid- 40s, at least one of them a public servant — went out last week while waiting for COVID-19 test results, both of which came back positive.

“These two guys have created a trail of havoc, destructio­n and chaos,” one of the bar owners said. He estimated that the weekend closure alone cost his bar $20,000 in sales.

The two owners spoke on the condition of anonymity because they’re concerned about further damage to their business.

During the past week, Deacon Brodies, Elgin Beer Project, St. Louis Bar and Grill, Lieutenant’s Pump and Waller Street Brewing all closed while staff members were tested. Some have since reopened or are about to reopen.

There’s been no evidence from completed tests that the two patrons spread COVID-19 during their Elgin Street drinking binge.

Waller Street Brewing has announced that one of its staff members has tested positive for COVID-19 and the restaurant will be closed for 14 days.

“We’ve been doing everything we’re supposed to be doing, and then to have two people come in like this and jeopardize that, it’s crazy, it’s maddening,” said one restaurate­ur in an interview Thursday.

The problem came to light last Friday when the two patrons let it be known that they had tested positive.

Eventually, one of the men, a public servant, admitted he had been tested Tuesday for COVID-19 after being told that he’d come into close contact with someone who had tested positive. His own test result came back late Thursday. In the interim, he had visited a number of Elgin Street bars and restaurant­s.

The two drinkers are known as customers who do not respect social distancing.

“There are just so many domino effects from this,” one bar owner said. Hundreds of servers, cooks and other contacts had to socially isolate and be tested for COVID-19.

“It drives me crazy: they’re government workers, working from home, and they go out and jeopardize livelihood­s of all these people,” he fumed.

One of the two men later apologized in a text message.

“I made a mistake and now I’m trying to find ways to lessen the repercussi­ons,” he said. “I’m scared and I know I made a terrible mistake that has now jeopardize­d not just myself but my friends and their livelihood­s. I never realized the far- reaching consequenc­es of my actions. Not being symptomati­c gave me a false sense of security and allowed me to make terrible decisions.”

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