Four Rochester restaurants are on the Minnesota Department of Health's watchlist, according to the online news source Bring Me the News.
The restaurants include Crave, Dooley’s Pub, Texas Roadhouse and Whistle Binkies on the Lake.
Sagar Chowdhury, Olmsted County’s environmental health manager, said the list is used to track related outbreaks, but doesn’t necessarily mean that the business is not taking appropriate steps to guard against spread.
“Even if they are on that watchlist, it doesn’t mean they are in an enforcement procedure necessarily,” he said. “It’s more so that we are consulting with them as a health department, and just making sure they are upping their game as much as they can.”
Having a case linked to a restaurant means the person with a positive COVID-19 test visited the restaurant as a customer or staff member within 30 days of the onset of symptoms.
Speaking of Texas Roadhouse, Chowdhury said the size of the restaurant allows for more customers to be served than found in many other establishments, but he also said the business has protocols in place for ensuring capacity limits are not exceeded.
He said it’s not uncommon for high-volume restaurants to see positive cases as infection rates rise, especially since many people might not be aware they are carrying the virus when they visit.
According to the Bring Me the News report, Texas Roadhouse has been connected to 14 confirmed cases, with nine considered unique, meaning the report comes from people only reporting going to one restaurant.
Crave reportedly has 10 confirmed cases linked to the restaurant, with nine considered unique.
Whistle Binkies south location has 11 linked cases with eight considered unique.
Dooley’s remains on the list with 39 total cases linked to the restaurant, 14 unique, but there have been no new cases since the last state report. Many of the cases might have been linked to an outbreak earlier this year, which was followed by the establishment of new protocols at the restaurant
The four restaurants are among 117 statewide that have reportedly made it onto the state watchlist.
Chowdhury said his staff tends to reach out to bars and restaurants before they make it on the state list, contacting owners or management when two confirmed cases appear with links to the business.
He said most restaurants have sought to take quick action to reduce risks.
“I’m seeing most of the restaurants, if not all of them, when they have an illness present, they call us," he said. "We identify the context. They quarantine them out, and if they can’t operate safely, they will voluntarily shut down. They are doing a fantastic job; they are being very responsive.."