PORTLAND, Maine – An acquaintance of Pat’s Pizza in the Old Port neighborhood said she reported the restaurant to state health officials for not implementing a coronavirus guidelines for indoor eating about a month before An outbreak hit restaurants, leaving at least 10 people infected.
Ann-Marie Keene in Portland said the staff did not prevent masked customers from wandering around the common areas of Market Street’s pizza shop when she arrived with a colleague on September 16.
Keene said she reported the experience at Pat’s Pizza ̵1; which she calls “disgusting” – to state health officials the next morning. The Maine Wellness Program cites the restaurant on September 22 for “customers who do not wear masks”.
After receiving a “written alert” from medical inspectors, Mike Lizotte, co-owner of the restaurant, said he hired five security guards for the Friday and Saturday shifts to “travel and tell customers to sit down and wear a mask “.
“Enforcement happens every Friday and Saturday to ensure all protocols are followed and is very pleased with us and what we are doing,” he said.
But it still doesn’t stop there.
On Wednesday, Pat’s Pizza in Portland closed indefinitely after one restaurant employee and nine regular staff members tested positive for coronavirus, according to Lizotte.
In a week with record numbers of new viral infections reported in the state, Governor Janet Mills said Wednesday that Mainers must take precautions because “lives are at stake here. . “
But she stressed that the state’s economy is also under threat, urging businesses to follow safety procedures during this pandemic to keep Mainers healthy and businesses running.
Businesses found not to comply with pandemic safety guidelines are often given “imminent health risk” warnings. If a business refuses to comply and “continues to operate in a manner that threatens public health,” the business will be shut down, under the health inspection program.
The state revoked the license of Sunday River Brewing Ltd. in Bethel for having repeatedly introduced pandemic safety guidelines in May and again over the summer. Finally, a court ordered the brewery to implement standard protective measures, such as the installation of Plexiglas shields, requiring employees to wear masks whenever they come into contact with other people. and set tables and stands 6 feet apart before the business is allowed to reopen.
Keene said she and her friend were sitting upstairs at a table across from the bar and were the only ones in the restaurant to wear a mask when not at the table, despite CDC instructions asking for an inner veil. common areas of restaurants.
“We order beer, and then drunken unmasked patrons will come to our tables, noisy and dumbfounded,” she said.
Keene says, the bartender, who works behind the plexiglas screen, periodically takes off her mask while she is at work, and doesn’t tell patrons of the restaurant to wear a mask or maintain status. social distance.
Keene, who works at Maine Medical Center, says she doesn’t blame the barista for not controlling unsafe behavior of customers inside the restaurant.
“It doesn’t completely depend on her. It is up to the owner and the owner, ”Keene said, adding that workers“ risk being terminated from their actual contracts if they speak up ”.
On Friday, Maine set another day of record-high new cases amid an increase in virus transmission across the state – 48 cases were reported in Cumberland County alone.
The increase could prompt the state’s recent plan to loosen restrictions on bars, restaurants and tasting rooms on Monday.
While officials have yet to announce any delays on plans to reopen, Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah urged Mainers on Friday to stay safe.
“Act now. For your sake and for the sake of the community, wear a mask and stay away from each other. This is serious,” he said.