Around 200 patrons potentially exposed to COVID-19 at Junior's Sportsbar in Cambridge
Region of Waterloo Public Health has declared a workplace COVID-19 outbreak at Junior's Sportsbar & Grill in Cambridge, with about 200 patrons potentially exposed to the virus.
The outbreak was declared Tuesday, and as of Wednesday, six confirmed cases have been linked to the establishment. Five of the cases are among staff.
The sixth case is not a patron, health officials said, adding that case is still under investigation.
However, public health said its investigation determined the outbreak is associated with a high-risk exposure for patrons.
"We have about 200 individuals that would be considered high-risk contacts at this time," associate medical officer of health Dr. Rabia Bana said Wednesday.
According to a release, anyone who attended the establishment between Oct. 17 and Oct. 22 may have been exposed and is considered a high-risk contact.
"These individuals are advised to self-isolate and seek testing immediately," reads a release from the health unit. "Public Health is supporting the workplace to inform all affected patrons of the exposure and will be following up with all high risk contacts."
Four confirmed cases are among individuals who are not vaccinated, public health said, adding "interactions among some of these cases outside the workplace have also played a role in this outbreak."
The health unit said the establishment, located at 800 Franklin Blvd., voluntarily closed and has been cooperative with public health officials.
Region of Waterloo Public Health recommends that workplaces put vaccination policies in place.
According to a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page, the restaurant closed on Saturday when one of its employees confirmed they tested positive for COVID-19.
The post goes on to say public health officials will be calling all the potentially impacted patrons as part of contact tracing.
“If you don’t get a call, it may be because some peoples writing is very hard to read, or just didn’t give phone numbers,” the post reads. “They have asked that you please self-isolate and get tested.”
Nancy Bairos, owner of Junior's Sportsbar, said she is devastated after the outbreak at her restaurant.
“I feel guilty like I do. I feel guilty, I feel responsible that it was my restaurant that did this to you,” said Bairos.
According to Bairos, the establishment followed public health protocols for staff and patrons.
She has 17 staff members and said six are currently unvaccinated.
“It’s not mandated. It’s not law, so how can I force you to be, how can I make that rule that you can’t work here unless you’re vaccinated when they’ve helped me all this time,” Bairos said.
According to a Facebook post by the restaurant on Tuesday, there was some confusion around determining who was considered a low or high-risk contact.
The post said the restaurant was initially told by public health it was up to them to determine if their customers were considered a low or high-risk contact, based off a chart that was provide, and to proceed with contact tracing.
Public health said the messaging around contact tracing changed as their investigation developed.
“Because the investigation is something that is ongoing as more information becomes available sometimes we if you are recommendations based on information as it becomes available,” said Dr. Bana.
Public health is in the process of reaching all 200 people who are considered to be high-risk contacts, and that interactions among some of these cases outside the workplace also played a role in this outbreak.
Bairos said they were asking people to fill out a form on the table at the time, but moving forward they will be changing how they collect contact information.
“What we’re going to start doing now just going back to having the staff take her name take her phone number," at the front door while checking proof of vaccination, Bairos said.
The restaurant has been thoroughly cleaned and Barios said they could potential open as early as Friday.