Semi­nole restau­rant closes af­ter six cus­tomers test pos­i­tive for coro­n­avirus.

Orlando Sentinel - - Front Page - BY STEVEN LEMONGELLO

The owner of Kiwi’s Pub & Grill in Al­ta­monte Springs said staff mem­bers have be­gun to ex­pe­ri­ence coro­n­avirus symp­toms and one has ini­tially tested pos­i­tive.

Owner Rick Cul­mer’s Satur­day night Face­book up­date on his staff came the day af­ter he an­nounced Kiwi’s was im­me­di­ately but tem­po­rar­ily clos­ing af­ter six peo­ple in­formed him they had tested pos­i­tive for the virus and had been in­side the restau­rant dur­ing the prior week.

Cul­mer wrote that the Semi­nole County Health De­part­ment told him the restau­rant had not been of­fi­cially “tagged” by any in­fected peo­ple. But, he added, “They did in­form me how­ever that they have been get­ting ham­mered with new in­fec­tions all around Al­ta­monte Springs and the county.”

Since be­ing in­formed about the first in­fected cus­tomer, “we have now had some staff ex­hibit symp­toms. No­body on our staff has worked with any symp­toms. This does not guar­an­tee [there was] no in­fec­tion ap­par­ently.”

And, he added, “one of our staff has now tested pos­i­tive with the Rapid Test. We are wait­ing for con­fir­ma­tions” from the more re­li­able test that takes three days for re­sults.

Cul­mer said he’s been also tested and will re­ceive re­sults in a few days.

“I do not have any symp­toms and I feel great,” he wrote. “How­ever I am tak­ing no chances.”

In his ini­tial post Fri­day, Cul­mer said clos­ing the restau­rant at 801 W. State Road 436 “may seem like an ex­trav­a­gant step, how­ever we are tak­ing no chances with the health of our staff and our cus­tomers. … We feel that your time at Kiwi’s is sup­posed to be a fun and re­lax­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and cur­rently I don’t feel that we can guar­an­tee that.

“We will be con­stantly mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion and will reopen the restau­rant as soon as we feel con­fi­dent that we can pro­vide a safe and healthy en­vi­ron­ment.”

Restau­rants in Florida were first al­lowed to reopen at 25% ca­pac­ity and so­cially dis­tanced out­door seat­ing on May 4 as part of Gov. DeSan­tis’s Phase 1 of re­open­ing af­ter the April stay-at-home or­der. The in­door ca­pac­ity was ex­panded to 50% on May 18, but was not ex­panded any fur­ther when DeSan­tis moved to Phase 2 on

June 4.

In a seven-day pe­riod from June 3 through June 9, Semi­nole had 74 new cases of the coro­n­avirus, a nearly 140% in­crease from the previous seven-day pe­riod when the county listed 31 new cases, ac­cord­ing to data from the Florida De­part­ment of Health and Semi­nole County.

“From my ob­ser­va­tions, it ap­pears that warm weather does not in­hibit the spread of the dis­ease,” Cul­mer wrote in his post Satur­day. “I urge ev­ery­body to wear a mask when out in pub­lic and to prac­tice ex­treme so­cial dis­tanc­ing.”

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