People not surprised by COVID-19 outbreak at East Lansing bar

East LANSING, MI. (WILX) – At least 25 people who have visited Harper’s Restaurant & Brew Pub in East Lansing in the past two weeks now have coronaviruses.

(Source: WILX)

That is prompting the Ingham County Health Department to urge anyone who has been there to stay home.

Now there are signs outside the bar that encourage people to wear a mask and social distance, but people who have been inside for the past two weeks say that none of this was happening.

“It was free for everyone who was there,” said a student at Michigan State University who did not want to be identified.

Harper’s is a popular place for MSU students.

Lines running down the street were a common sight almost as soon as it opened on June 12.

The student told News 10 that she was there on Wednesdays and Thursdays and was surprised to see how crowded it was.

“Going there in the fall and in the school year didn’t seem any different to me. Like normal,” he said.

Harper closed Monday after two people tested positive for COVID-19.

By Wednesday afternoon, that number increased to more than 25.

The Ingham County Health Department said all of those cases are between the ages of 19 and 23.

“That is not surprising at all,” said Jamie Lining.

Lining shot a video of the line on June 13 when he was eating at another restaurant in downtown East Lansing.

“My first thought was ‘this is extremely dangerous. While we crushed the curve, it didn’t go away entirely,'” Lining said.

He said that as the state begins to reopen, people need to think about more than themselves.

“When you spend three months working so hard to flatten the curve and open things up and then do something like that, I think it’s kind of selfish,” Lining said.

Health Officer Linda Vail said the department is working to make changes to prevent another outbreak like this one.

“We are literally helping our environmental health people become familiar with executive orders, what is required and what is not required in restaurants in relation to those and get them out on the field for mini consultations, educational sessions.” she said.

The Ingham County Health Department is encouraging anyone who has been here in the past two weeks to be quarantined for 14 days.

On Wednesday afternoon, Harper’s owners Pat and Trisha Riley released the following statement:

“Our small family business takes its role and responsibility in our community very seriously, especially when it comes to the health and safety of our customers and team members. That is why we have taken all steps to not only meet, but also exceed, local, state, and federal guidelines for reopening during this COVID-19 health pandemic, which has been confirmed by the Ingham County Health Department. . That is why we have also temporarily closed, to implement additional security precautions. We understand that people who tested positive for COVID-19 visited our facility, as well as several others in East Lansing. So before we are open, we are investing in new air filtration technology, as well as a virtual line management application that will help deny the city’s sidewalk lines over which we have no control or authority. We also make sure that all of our employees are evaluated. As a family owned and operated business, we will not give up on our commitment to go further, diligently maintaining health standards and protocols to help keep our employees and guests safe. “

In their statement, Harper’s owners said they will do the following to mitigate the spread of COVID-19:
• Pay as needed, regular and continuous COVID testing for all employees.
• Invest and implement a new virtual line management application to eliminate the external lines that alarmed us on the sidewalks of the city. While Harper’s had placed 6-foot social distancing marks in hopes that that would be a guide, the restaurant did not have the authority to enforce on city property. This new system should eliminate those lines.
• Reverse and modify the air treatment system with air purification technology to help eliminate viruses, bacteria, and more.
• To help all establishments enforce appropriate and necessary measures, Harper’s once again urges the city to eliminate public drinking areas in downtown East Lansing that lead to overcrowded situations.

Current COVID-19 standards, as well as other mitigation strategies implemented to help ensure that we are the safest business:
• All employees and providers must undergo a health assessment process upon entering the building.
• All employees and suppliers must wear face coat while working supplied free of charge by Harper’s.
• Frequent deep cleaning and disinfection procedures are implemented for all customer contact points and contact surfaces.
• All tables are set up for proper social distancing and, where impossible, Plexiglass partitions have been installed to separate the tables.
• Operating at a maximum capacity of 50%.

Beyond previous state and local standards, Harper’s has implemented additional policies and procedures, and has also made significant financial investments, to help improve the environment.
as safe as possible:
• Free face masks are provided to all clients upon entry.
• All restrooms have been converted to non-contact environments by installing non-contact hand dryers, taps, urine discharge devices and toilets (60 devices)
• Since its reopening, Harper’s closes two days a week for deep deep cleaning and disinfection.
• Hand sanitizer is available throughout the restaurant and in bathrooms with over 100 gallons on hand.
• All dishes and kitchen utensils undergo two steps through our dishwasher and high-temperature disinfectant.
• All stool in bars has been removed to provide social distancing and reduce any long-term contact.
• Chaining the deck tables to the deck bolts so they cannot move and always stay 6 feet away.
• Large banners have been placed inside and outside the building directing customers to social distance and to wearing face covers.
• Encourage clients to sit outside when weather permits to provide an outdoor air environment.
• Disposable plastic glassware is used to avoid multi-person use contact.
• Disposable single-use menus are used to prevent multi-person contact and to be used as a disposable location.
• Single-use disposable paper napkins are used to avoid transfer by contact.
• Disposable plastic cutlery is used to avoid the use of multiple people.
• Disposable, individual, sealed packages of salt, pepper and condiments are provided to avoid multiple touches of traditional serving containers.
• Regular communication with all staff and management to improve policies and procedures based on daily input.

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