The list of Seattle restaurants directly impacted by the novel coronavirus continues to grow. Last week, popular pizza destination Supreme closed both of its locations temporarily after an employee at its U District outpost tested positive for COVID-19.
The pizzeria — which also has a location in West Seattle — had been open for to-go orders only, and operations manager Brianna Diener tells Eater Seattle that the employee in question had not been at the U District restaurant for a week before the test results came in. Out of an abundance of caution, both Supreme locations closed, and all employees were asked to take COVID-19 tests (no others have come back positive to this point, and those who came into contact with the employee who tested positive are being asked to take a second test).
The restaurants had been closed since last Sunday, and will likely not open again until this Saturday at the earliest, meaning there will be at least a three-week lag time between when the employee had worked and when Supreme opens. “We want to be going in with a clean slate,” says Diener.
This is just the latest COVID-19-related restaurant closure in Seattle. Recently, Duke’s on Alki was forced to shut down by Public Health Seattle - King County (PHSKC) after an outbreak in which seven employees at the seafood chain’s location tested positive. That closure lasted a week, though, and Duke’s has now resumed dine-in service. Supreme will likely be closed completely for two weeks with one case, and serving via takeout windows only.
The contrast in approaches highlights just how open to interpretation some of the public health guidelines are when it comes to handling positive COVID-19 cases for restaurants. Though there are comprehensive prevention and sanitation protocols, the PHSKC’s website doesn’t say specifically that restaurants need to close if an employee tests positive, nor that they need to make a public announcement — just that the employee would need to stay home and isolate for at least 10 days after symptoms occur, and that those in close contact with that person should also quarantine for 14 days. The guidelines also state that there is no required testing for the novel coronavirus — “the decision to be tested is left to individuals and their physicians.”
Diener mentions that Supreme consulted guidelines for both King County and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and went with the more stringent of the two, especially given the rise in cases in recent weeks throughout the region (there was recently a cluster of COVID-19 cases linked to the University of Washington’s campus). “It’d be nice if clearer instructions were more easily available,” she says.