KITCHENER -- A COVID-19 outbreak was declared at a Portuguese restaurant in Kitchener on Monday after six positive cases were linked to the setting. Public health officials said Monday that as many as 175 people may have been exposed at Algarve Restaurant between Oct. 28 and Nov. 4.

On Tuesday, the number of confirmed cases related to the outbreak there rose to eight.

Patrons of the popular restaurant in Kitchener call the restaurant an iconic spot for the local Portuguese community.

The outbreak was declared as Waterloo Region reported 40 new cases of the disease on Monday, bringing the number of active local cases to 210.

On Tuesday, the Ventura family, who has owned and operated the restaurant since 1987, issued a statement to CTV Kitchener. The statement said that they were very concerned for anyone impacted by the public health notice and that they think of their patrons as family.

"We have done everything by the book to help us get through this pandemic," their statement said in part.

"We hope and pray for the well-being of all our customers and their families."

The statement also said that the restaurant was being sanitized on Tuesday.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Abdu Sharkawy said he's concerned abbot the outbreak.

"This is a situation that could easily lead to super spreading throughout the community," Dr. Sharkawy said. "Anybody who's been potentially exposed should get tested immediately. They should certainly start to self-isolate without any further delay."

One patron described Algarve Restaurant as a neighbourhood pub or café just like the ones in Portugal. He said that the Ventura family have done a good job throughout the pandemic, and that they'll reopen when they can.

"I think the ownership here is being very responsible, they voluntarily closed down to take measures to make sure that no one's at risk," said customer Antonio Nogueira.

"I know they will reopen and I know that people will be back here, and I would just encourage everyone that if anyone has put themselves at risk elsewhere, not to go into any public place, including restaurants and especially including this restaurant."

Public health officials said Monday that the restaurant is fully cooperating, and has turned over their customer logs to help with contact tracing.

Anyone who was at the restaurant between Oct. 28 and Nov. 4 is advised to go get tested for COVID-19.