Businesses feel 'singled out' by list of potential COVID-exposed restaurants and bars

Published: Jul. 3, 2020 at 10:16 PM AKDT
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Nineteen bars and restaurants, most of them in Anchorage,

as locations where people infected with the coronavirus spent an extended period of time.

The reasoning provided by the health department is that contact tracing has become too complex in areas where there are large number of people and social distancing and mask wearing are unlikely to occur, but the owner of one of those restaurants is asking why only bars and restaurants are being identified.

“I can list out everywhere I've been in the last 12 days and it's a whole laundry list of places, and it doesn't just include restaurants and bars,” Matt Tomter, owner of Matanuska Brewing Company, said. The company’s Eagle River location was one of the restaurants listed.

Tomter also said the Health Department did not let him know this announcement was coming, and he's not the only one. Sheila Buffington, owner of JJ’s lounge, said she only heard about the announcement when a KTUU reporter called to ask about it.

Now, as the businesses head into fourth of July weekend, they've got to spend resources doing their own contact tracing.

“We're gonna call everybody that was in the restaurant that day and say 'hey we don't know if the person was positive or not, but they were certainly in there 12 days before, or 7 days before they tested positive,’" Tomter said.

Tomter also highlighted that the coronavirus case was not necessarily spread, or even active, while the individual was at a restaurant.

“The person that was here 12 days ago,” he said. “We've cleaned the place, thoroughly, 100 times since that person was here."

But Matanuska Brewing and the other restaurants may not be the only establishments having their names attached to cases. The health department also announced Friday that it's developing an exposure notice website, where they will list other places with confirmed cases, but they will not be listing informal gatherings.

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