King Eider’s Pub, in downtown Damariscotta, closed for two days, then reopened for curbside pickup only, after an employee tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, Oct. 29. The restaurant plans to offer dine-in service again beginning Saturday, Nov. 7.
The restaurant reopened for curbside pickup at 3 p.m. on Halloween, Saturday, Oct. 31.
Co-owner Jed Weiss said by phone Tuesday, Nov. 3 that he only had enough employees to operate curbside pickup and the restaurant would return to regular hours, with both takeout and dine-in service, Saturday, once some employees finish a quarantine mandated by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Weiss said 13 King Eider’s employees, including himself, were quarantining for two weeks from the date of last close contact with the employee who tested positive.
He said all 13 employees in quarantine have received COVID-19 tests, although the CDC did not require testing, and they all tested negative.
Each employee started quarantining as directed to do so by CDC officials. Some employees will finish quarantining Saturday, some Sunday, and others Tuesday, Nov. 10, Weiss said.
He said it has been somewhat challenging dealing with the Maine CDC, since the agency is backed up due to the surge in COVID-19 cases across the state. The last employees asked to quarantine were contacted Tuesday, Nov. 3, five days after the initial positive test result at King Eider’s.
Weiss said the positive test result did not affect two related businesses, The 1812 Farm and Stone Cove Catering, because those employees work on a per diem basis. He said the only way they would have been affected is if the kitchen staff had to quarantine, but the CDC did not identify them as close contacts.
Weiss said by phone Thursday, Oct. 29 that the state did not require the restaurant to shut down, but the owners did so out of an abundance of caution while employees waited for direction from the CDC about whether to quarantine for 14 days or just monitor their health symptoms.
“It’s now at our front door, quite literally. We’re just trying to do the best we can for our staff, our patrons, and our community. That’s why we closed right away. Now, we’re just waiting to hear what the CDC has to say,” Weiss said Thursday.
Weiss said the employee who tested positive for COVID-19 does not work directly with customers for long periods of time and is not on the wait staff.
The Maine CDC defines close contacts as “people who were within 6 feet of a COVID-19 case for 15 minutes or more. This includes the 48-hour period before the COVID-19 case became symptomatic.”
According to the agency’s procedures, close contacts must quarantine for 14 days, regardless of whether they test positive.
Anyone who has contact with someone who tests positive for less than 15 minutes is advised to monitor their health symptoms.
Weiss said the CDC contacted King Eider’s on Oct. 27 and told the restaurant a customer who had been there on a certain day had tested positive for COVID-19 and there may have been exposure.
Weiss said staff at King Eider’s determined that only two employees had contact with that customer and the contact lasted under 15 minutes, leading them to recommend that those employees monitor their symptoms.
Both the employees then received COVID-19 tests at LincolnHealth’s Respiratory Care Clinic — one tested positive and one negative, Weiss said.
According to Weiss, the CDC said the customer and employee’s positive tests are not necessarily connected — the employee also could have contracted the coronavirus outside work.
Weiss said the employee informed the Maine CDC of everyone they came into contact with in the 48-hour period before they developed symptoms.
He said the employee had minor symptoms and is doing OK.
Customers and members of the community have voiced concern and offered support since the restaurant announced the positive case and its temporary closing Thursday, Weiss said.