WALLINGFORD — The owner of the Library Wine Bar and Bistro announced Monday that the restaurant would close temporarily after two employees tested positive for COVID-19.
A Facebook post by the family of owner Joe Gouveia said that once they became aware of the situation, the restaurant at 60 N. Main St. closed and a professional cleaning crew deep cleaned the building.
After speaking with town Health Department officials, Gouveia decided to close the restaurant for two weeks, beginning Friday. The restaurant may reopen Sept. 18.
Town Health Director Stephen Civitelli said two cases have been reported as of Tuesday to the Health Department.
Gouveia said all the remaining staff have been tested, and there have been no further positive test results among employees since the restaurant closed.
The first COVID-19 case was reported Sept. 1, after an employee ran a light fever and the test came back positive for COVID-19. Gouveia said he immediately closed the restaurant, called the town Health Department and brought in professional cleaners.
Civitelli said the department performed a risk assessment based on close contact, and removed one other restaurant employee for 14 days.
“He (Gouveia) did the right thing right out of the gate,” Civitelli said. “The first thing you’re supposed to do is call us. We work through it, because no two scenarios are the same.”
Two days later on Thursday, the restaurant reopened in the afternoon. On Friday, a second employee tested positive.
Gouveia said he again closed up, called the Health Department and brought the cleaners back in.
“I decided that moment, it’s best that I close” for two weeks, he said. “This is taking a toll on my family. We ourselves posted it on Facebook. We wanted people to be aware of it. We’re not trying to sweep anything under the rug.”
Gouveia said that business had been steady and that the restaurant had hired a new chef and manager a few months ago.
“Things were looking bright for us,” he said. “It’s going to give us a chance to reflect and we’re going to be stronger.”
Gouveia also owns Gouveia Vineyards on Whirlwind Hill Road. He said that the two businesses operate separately and do not share employees.
Civitelli said the town relies on a mix of local regulation and state reopening guidance when advising food service operators on the procedures for reporting COVID-19 cases.
He said that if more restaurants are forced to close due to COVID-19 among employees, it “could be devastating.”
“It’s going to be hard for some of these places,” Civitelli said. “Say you have a handful of people at a restaurant. That could take the place out for 14 days. That’s the problem.”