Less than a week after closing due to a COVID-19 case, Fremont Brewing is open again. On Sunday, the popular beer destination welcomed customers back to its outdoor patio, saying via Twitter, “All of our Urban Beer Garden staff tested negative for COVID-19 and we did an extra deep sanitation cleaning of the entire Urban Beer Garden and both brewery locations.”
On June 16, Fremont Brewing decided to close down its taproom and all operation facilities after an asymptomatic employee tested positive for COVID-19. In an announcement on Facebook, the brewery said the employee — whose last shift was June 9 — exercised social distancing at the time the employee worked, wore personal protection equipment (including mask and gloves), and was in self-quarantine.
“We are taking immediate action and closing both the Urban Beer Garden and our production facility to allow for immediate testing of all Fremont Brewing employees and for a full sanitation of all Fremont Brewing facilities,” read a statement from the brewery at the time.
When King County officially allowed dine-in services to resume the weekend of June 6 at 25 percent inside and 50 percent outside, Fremont Brewing was one of the first places in Seattle to reopen for outdoor seating. That Saturday, there were long lines outside the brewery, with two-hour wait times for seats inside its Urban Beer Garden, and customers did not seem to adhere to social distancing or strict mask-wearing outside on the sidewalk.
Fremont Brewing had said via an Instagram post that while “we can’t control how people behave in our line, we absolutely encourage everyone to follow social distancing best practices and to wear masks.” The brewery also made a “safety video” about its new coronavirus-related protocols, and mentioned that staff got regular temperature checks and sick-time benefits.
“When we opened our doors on June 6, we learned that we had to enforce social distancing on the sidewalk, too, if there was a line of people waiting to get in,” Fremont Brewing co-founder Sara Nelson tells Eater Seattle. “We now have signage along the perimeter of our building requiring six feet of distance between parties, we have markers on the sidewalk indicating where to stand and we have our staff walk the line to hand out masks to people who need them and request they maintain proper social distancing and wear a mask all times in the line.
“As the largest and oldest taproom in Seattle, our situation may be a bit unique but we do anticipate other businesses having lines as they reopen and we all need to have strong protocols in place to ensure social distancing and the wearing of masks. This is a new situation for us and every other business and we’re learning as we go. We are eager to welcome people back to our brewery if we can do it safely. Our focus right now is on being transparent, cautious and taking care of our guests, community and staff.”
The COVID-19 case at Fremont Brewing also comes as King County entered phase two of Washington’s “Safe Start” reopening plan. Seattle dining rooms are now allowed to double its indoor capacity limit. Even though the city didn’t reopen as early as others around the country, many chefs in the area have said it’s still too soon to reopen, and some are holding off for the time being, sticking to takeout and delivery. To date, there have been 8,850 COVID-19 cases in King County and 595 deaths.
UPDATED, June 22, 2020, 11:47 a.m.: This article was updated with the announcement that Fremont Brewing is open again.
- Fremont Brewing [Facebook]