Winnipeg restaurant owners learned of B.1.1.7. variant exposure days after it occurred
Lori Lucas, the owner of a Chicken Chef Restaurant that had a recent possible exposure to the B.1.1.7. variant, holds the COVID-19 contact tracing sheet she has been using to keep track of patrons. (Source: CTV News Winnipeg)
WINNIPEG -- A restaurant owner is calling for better communication after learning of a possible COVID-19 variant exposure in her restaurant that occurred days earlier.
On Thursday, the province warned of a potential exposure connected to the B.1.1.7. variant at the Chicken Chef Restaurant at 3770 Portage Ave. between 5 and 7 p.m. on March 6.
Lori Lucas, the owner of the Chicken Chef, said she was shocked to learn about the possible exposure when a public health nurse called her Thursday morning.
“She said, ‘We are supposed to let people know when we are publicizing their name and address,’" Lucas told CTV News.
Lucas said the nurse then told her of the possible B.1.1.7. exposure from March 6.
“Number one, I am stunned. Number two, then she says, “Oh, didn’t someone call you?” I went, “No, I am finding out as you are telling me.’”
Lucas wanted to know more, like whether the possible exposure was dine-in, take-out or drive-thru, but she said the nurse did not have that information.
Lucas said the exposure was not a staff member.
She has since consulted with her health inspector who told her the restaurant has been diligently following health orders and likely the risk of exposure is very low.
After this experience, Lucas said there must be better communication when possible exposures happen.
"Why wasn’t I told ahead of time? Why am I getting a call and you’re going public with it?” she said. “I haven’t had a chance to tell my staff, to have those conversations with them, answer questions and some, I still haven’t because they are just getting out of school now. That's not fair."
The province also warned that a potential B.1.1.7. exposure may have occurred at the Silver Heights Restaurant at 2169 Portage Ave. from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on March 5.
Similarly to Lucas, the Silver Heights Restaurant owner Tony Siwicki said he found out about the possible exposure Thursday morning at around 11 a.m.—less than two hours before it was released publicly.
He said he didn't find out it was the B.1.1.7. variant until he heard about it on the news.
“Why am I finding out the same time as everyone else is finding out?” he told CTV News on Thursday.
“And then you go through all the steps as far as what we did—are we safe in our own minds? We go through the masks and the sanitization and the dividers and are we following the rules?”
Siwicki said he also spoke with a health inspector who told him he is okay because the procedures he was using are more than enough to prevent spread.