Fremont Brewing, one of the state’s most acclaimed beer companies, has shut down its beer garden and other facilities after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus, the brewery announced on Facebook on Tuesday evening.
The unidentified employee, currently under quarantine, last worked at the beer garden on June 9 and “showed no COVID-19 symptoms” and “wore PPE including a mask and gloves,” brewery management wrote in its Facebook post.
“While it is impossible to know when our employee contracted COVID-19, out of an abundance of caution for our community and employees, 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,” the brewery announced on Facebook.
Sara Nelson, co-owner of Fremont Brewing said Wednesday evening that all 70 employees have been tested for the coronavirus and “we hope to get the test results by the end of this week and determine then if we can reopen next week based on the results.”
Under the state’s guidelines for restaurants and bars to reopen, customers had the option of leaving a contact number or email in case contact tracing was needed. Nelson said several customers left their cell phone numbers with Fremont Brewing on June 9, and that all those customers have already been notified that a server working on the day they visited the brewery has tested positive for the coronavirus.
The popular beer garden closed on Tuesday night, 10 days after reopening under Gov. Jay Inslee’s “modified Phase 1,” in which restaurants can offer indoor dining at 25% of capacity and outdoor dining at 50% capacity. King County is currently applying for Phase 2, which would allow beer gardens and restaurants more leeway to add seating capacity.
Eric Radovich, executive director of the Washington Beer Commission, which represents the 421 breweries in the state, doubts Fremont Brewing’s shutdown will scare off other breweries from their reopening plans when the county moves to Phase 2.
“This virus is quite contagious. It only takes one and here we are. I am not surprised it has happened at one of our most popular venues. Hopefully it is something that won’t repeat at other breweries as we move to the weekend,” Radovich said.
It’s unfortunate that this has happened to a brewery that has spent much money putting all the state’s prescribed reopening safety measures in place and has followed all protocols, Radovich said.
Before opening, the brewery announced it was “converting the bathrooms to be 100% touch-free, making payment systems touch-free, moving seating to ensure 6 feet between parties and adding a third bar to minimize lines while ordering beers.”
Fremont Brewing has shut down its facilities in Ballard and Fremont, but all employees will be paid through the hiatus, management said.