UPDATE June 20th: Taproom reopens tomorrow, Father’s Day.
One employee, who only worked one shift, at Fremont Brewing’s Urban Beer Garden has tested positive for COVID-19. All of the company’s employees are now getting tested. Urban Beer Garden closed again until further notice.
Fremont Brewing reopened its taproom, the Urban Beer Garden, on Saturday, June 6th under the guidelines set forth by the state’s “Safe Start” reopening plan. Despite one small hiccup with the line that formed outside of the business on that first day, things went well, with the company exercising an abundance of caution beyond what the state required.
Yesterday, June 16th, Fremont Brewing closed the Urban Beer Garden after finding out that one of its employees tested positive for COVID-19. That employee worked one shift at the UBG on Tuesday, June 9th. Again, that employee worked one shift on that one day. That is the only day the employee worked at the taproom since it reopened for “regular” on-premise sales. The employee has not displayed any symptoms (asymptomatic).
“Before reopening, we considered what we imagined to be all scenarios and we established protocols,” says Sara Nelson, one of the owners at Fremont Brewing. “Our decision to reopen wasn’t made lightly and we wanted to do all we could to make sure we were keeping our customers, our employees, and our community as safe as possible. When we found out about that employee’s test result, we immediately closed the UBG and looked at our protocols, which dictated how we would move forward.”
Because Fremont Brewing had instituted a text-message waiting list for tables, they were able to contact some of the customers from that day, but not everyone who was at the UBG was on the waiting list. Only one person in each party was on the waiting list and some individuals and parties were not on the list at all. They are doing all they can to make sure anyone who was at the UBG on that day is aware of the situation.
It is not exactly clear when the Urban Beer Garden will reopen. ALL employees have been instructed by Fremont Brewing to get tested. Only those testing negative will be allowed to return to work. Since it is impossible for the company to know when they’ll be able to safely reassemble the staff, they cannot set a firm reopening date. Of course, the entire facility is being sanitized. Keep an eye on Fremont Brewing’s social media channels to stay informed.
This shutdown extends beyond the Urban Beer Garden. All of Fremont Brewing is essentially closed. A minimum crew (one person at a time) is doing the absolutely essential work. For instance, transferring beer that has finished fermenting out of the fermenter into conditioning tanks. Basically, that’s it. When the brewery will return to business-as-usual remains to be seen. Hopefully, soon.
My Personal Take
As the pandemic shutdowns dragged on, many people were anxious for their favorite brewery taprooms, bars, restaurants, and other businesses to reopen. As consumers, we didn’t really think about what this looked like for the businesses we love. We just wanted them to open.
Some businesses reopened rashly, using a “let’s just see what happens” approach. Others, like Fremont Brewing, put a lot of thought and consideration into the decision to reopen. None of this has been easy, and this situation just made things even harder.
Over the past week, I’ve had some pretty long, in-depth conversations with the owners of Fremont Brewing and I can assure you they are trying to do the right thing at every step. The protocols they put in place for employees and customers at the UBG went beyond the state’s requirements. The way they are now dealing with this latest news was not at all required by the state. The shutdown, the companywide testing, and everything else they’re doing right now is all entirely of Fremont Brewing’s own volition.
After being closed for so long, then reopening, it must have been very difficult for Fremont Brewing to close the Urban Beer Garden again. I commend them on doing the right thing.
Here is the statement Fremont Brewing released yesterday via social media:
Today June 16th, one of our Urban Beer Garden employees tested positive COVID-19. This employee is asymptomatic (e.g., has no symptoms), immediately notified us, and has placed themselves in self-quarantine. We know our employee’s last shift at the Urban Beer Garden was on Tuesday, June 9th and our employee showed no COVID-19 symptoms, had an acceptable temperature when they reported for their shift and wore PPE including a mask and gloves; and used social distancing and sanitation best practices while working their shift.
While it is impossible to know when our employee contracted COVID-19, out of an abundance of caution for our community and employees, we are taking immediate action and closing both the Urban Beer Garden and our production facility to allow for immediate testing of all Fremont Brewing employees and for a full sanitation of all Fremont Brewing facilities.
We are actively seeking medical counsel to make sure we’re taking the strongest measures possible to ensure the safety of our customers and employees. We’ll re-open when it is deemed completely safe and prudent to do so. Please check our website and stay-tuned to social media for updates and news regarding re-opening. We appreciate your patience. Please direct any questions to [email protected]