/Restaurants assist with contact tracing

Restaurants assist with contact tracing

By Chad Ingram

Since Aug. 7, local eateries have been required to record the names and contact information of all customers for the purposes of contact tracing amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Communications from the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit reads that, “all premises that serve food and drink are required to record the name and contact information of every patron who enters an indoor or outdoor dining area, keep those records for a period of at least one month and only disclose these records to the health unit (eg. medical officer of health or public health inspector) on request. These records are a key piece of information to support the health unit in contact tracing of positive cases of COVID-19, which is a crucial step in limiting spread of the virus and keeping our communities safe.” 

Shawn Chamberlin, who owns Minden’s Dominion Hotel, told the Times his staff has been recording the information required by the health unit, but indicated that getting that information has been a challenge in some instances. 
“We are supporting all measures to control the outbreak of COVID-19,” Chamberlin wrote in an email to the paper. “The safety of our customers and our staff is very important to us and staff is working very hard to keep the Dominion Hotel as safe as possible for our guests.” 

Terri Mathews-Carl co-owns Carnarvon’s Rhubarb restaurant, along with Boshkung Brewing Co., and also indicated that in some instances, it’s been challenging to get contact information from patrons. 
“For the most part people are happy to do what is asked,” Mathews-Carl wrote in an email. “We do get a push back still from some people not understanding why we need all names, and not just one per table. We are still getting people attempting to enter the restaurant without masks. I have had to send people back to cars and cottages to retrieve them.” 

Since the restaurant is operating at about 50 per cent capacity, Mathews-Carl said tables are reserved quickly, with typically no day-of availability. 
“Again, most people are understanding but there are some who are frustrated about this,” she wrote. “I think that people are a little less patient these days and a little less kind when things don’t go as planned. Our staff are doing their best to give great service while wearing masks for six-to-10 hour shifts and are being very careful about safety measures. We are happy to be able to welcome back guests and feel like things are normal again.” 

Meanwhile, in Haliburton Village, the Vargas family who operate the Mega Munch Breakfast and Lunch food truck, decided that the requirement for recording names and contact information would mean the establishment would offer take-out food only. 
“Although our indoor seating/washroom area has been closed since the beginning of this pandemic, we have decided to remove our picnic tables in light of this requirement,” they wrote in a Facebook post. “This is not an ideal situation and it saddens us to do it, however, this seems to be the only sensible option. We regret any inconvenience to our customers, however we will now be strictly take-out. Thank you to everyone for your continued support through these challenging times.”

As of Aug. 24, there had been 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Haliburton County since the beginning of the pandemic, all of them considered resolved.