REG-L-Kutztown downtown TOPIX

A "Kutztown Strong" banner hangs across Main Street in Kutztown. In early September, several Kutztown businesses closed temporarily due to employees testing positive for COVID-19. Those businesses have since reopened after disinfecting and other employees testing negative.

Several Kutztown businesses closed temporarily after employees tested positive for coronavirus.

“I was saddened by the closure of business due to COVID,” said Kutztown Mayor Jim Schlegel. “We can support these businesses by patronizing them as soon as they reopen and offering words of encouragement while they are closed. I thought it was great to see how the local businesses were supporting each other on Facebook.”

The K'town Pub Taphouse & BBQ in a Sept. 8 Facebook post announced that two employees tested positive for COVID. In the interest of complete transparency, the time line of events was provided. An employee last worked Monday, Aug. 31 and began feeling sick more than 48 hours later on Thursday morning, Sept. 3. They went to get a COVID test on Friday and were immediately removed from the schedule. The test came back positive early Monday morning. Another employee last worked on Saturday and began feeling ill on Monday. They got tested on Monday and received a positive result this afternoon, according to the Facebook post.

“We have been closed since learning of the first positive result and will be closed indefinitely while all of our staff members get tested. While we are closed we will be giving the pub a deep cleaning and sanitizing. The health and safety of our staff and customers is of the upmost importance.”

In a Sept. 18 post, K’Town Pub announced reopening Sept. 21.

“Per the Governor’s new order, our hours will be 4 to 11 p.m. until further notice. Thank you to everyone that reached out to us while we were shut down. We can’t wait to see y’all soon!!”

Camillo's Italian Restaurant, Pizzeria & Bar in a Sept. 15 post announced, “It was only a matter of time that it worked its way downtown and to our establishment.”

A member of the staff who last worked Sunday, Sept. 13 tested positive for COVID-19. While Camillo’s contacted staff members that were working that evening, they required all staff members to get tested.

“While we are closed, we will be disinfecting, sanitizing, and awaiting results from ALL staff members.”

In a Sept. 18 post, Camillo’s announced its reopening that day.

“We are excited to announce that after receiving, and all have been documented, negative results from our staff with the exception of the driver who worked Sunday, and restaurant being cleaned, scrubbed and disinfected, we will be opening TODAY.”

“Thank you all for your amazing support, love, prayers and texts/calls. We are so blessed to have THE BEST community and loyal Camillo’s customers around.”

Mark's Sandwich Shop in a Sept. 11 Facebook post, “Unfortunately, Coronavirus has made its way to some of the Mark’s crew and we will be closed for the time being so we can properly and thoroughly clean the shop, give our employees time to recover and get tested.”

The timeline: Employee #1 last worked on Monday, Sept. 7, and had no symptoms at that time. This employee got tested and received positive results Sept. 11. Employee #2 last worked on Tuesday, Sept. 8, and has no symptoms. This employee is a presumed positive due close contact with a confirmed positive (not employed by Mark’s) and is awaiting test results.

“The health and safety of our employees and customers is our top concern. During our closure we will thoroughly sanitize the shop, and hope to re-open in the coming days. Thank you for your support and understanding during this tough time. Please be safe and vigilant out there,” according to the post.

In update post on Sept. 15, test results were in that employees were COVID free. The shop reopened Sept. 16.

Owner Luke Hubler, Kutztown, talked to MediaNews Group via email about the experience.

“As a small business owner, the recent spike in virus cases in town is concerning. We’ve unfortunately had to close for four days due to positive cases within our staff. We are thankful that due to our rigorous cleaning efforts and our employees’ willingness to wear masks 100% of the time in the shop, we did not have any transmission from employee to employee while at work,” wrote Hubler. “The spreading virus is not only a threat to our employees themselves, but also their family members, my family members and our community in general.”

As for the impact of being temporarily closed, Hubler said, “Every day we are closed is a day that we are not making money, and we’re not naïve to the fact that it’s likely we will have to close again if the spread is not contained soon. Thankfully we have a great group of employees who have been completely upfront with us on their health and have been responsible community members.”

Since the shop reopened, there are temperature checks of all employees and they are asked several screening questions before their shift.

“There’s not much we can do to step up our cleaning efforts, as we’re already cleaning every touchpoint, inside and out, several times throughout the day,” he said.

Customers continue to be supportive.

“The majority of our loyal customers have been tremendously supportive, though on a daily basis, we still have to deal with a lot of customers that ignore the signs we have displayed prominently on the door requiring masks to enter the building, and to respect social distancing by waiting outside and only allowing one customer in the foyer/pickup area at a time,” wrote Hubler.

Hubler requests customers to follow COVID guidelines.

“It’s extremely frustrating that we can’t get customers to follow these simple rules, for at the very least, respect for our business and employees. Until we see a concerted effort to follow this simple guideline, we unfortunately won’t even consider re-opening for dine-in, and will remain open for pick-up and delivery only,” wrote Hubler. “We support this community in every way we can, and we’re just asking for some of that in return during this really trying time.”

Concluding, Hubler wrote, “We need to put politics aside and work together to keep our community safe, and the University needs to step up their efforts by being transparent with the students and community, and putting the safety of everybody before profits. If we can do it as a small business, so can an entity like Kutztown University.”

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