What to do when an employee tests positive for COVID-19 

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In Lafayette, LA, we’ve been seeing an alarming resurgence of COVID-19 cases since we began reopening last month. Businesses that were elated to reopen are now being forced to shut their doors once again as the virus infects their staff. So, what do you do if an employee tests positive for COVID-19? 

On June 22, Governor John Bel Edwards announced that we will not be moving into phase 3 of reopening due to the deadly direction Louisiana is heading in. 

At this point, it’s pretty much inevitable that your employees or consumers will come into contact with the virus. The question is: When? And what are you supposed to do when the first case arises in your workplace?

Below are a few examples of ways that local businesses have taken to social media after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. Posts that were upfront and transparent about the circumstances were met with support and appreciation from the community. 

Businesses that failed to notify customers of COVID-19 cases in their vicinity, however, received a good bit of criticism — and understandably so. 

In the event that one of your team members tests positive for the virus, the social media examples below should give you a pretty good idea of the kind of approach that’s well-received and the kind of approach that isn’t. 

The right way to handle when an employee tests positive for COVID-19

Tsunami Sushi has been receiving an outpouring of praise and respect for the way they reacted to an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

Almost immediately, they took to Facebook to let their customers know what was going on:

Tsunami Facebook post about employee testing positive

Their transparency and concern for public health was met with an immense amount of love and gratitude from the Lafayette community. Hundreds liked and shared their post, praising Tsunami for how they handled the situation. 

A couple of days later, after they deemed it safe to reopen, they released a statement mandating that all customers wear masks while inside their restaurant (alongside the staff who have been wearing masks since they reopened).

Customers will be allowed to remove their masks once they’ve been seated. Because of their transparency, this new rule has been met with gratefulness rather than anger. Customers continued to thank Tsunami for “setting the right example for businesses.”

Other local businesses have begun following in their footsteps. Two days after Tsunami announced that one of their employees tested positive, TAO Asian Cuisine released a similar statement on their Facebook page and boosted the post (paid to have it shown as an ad) to reach more people.

Like Tsunami, TAO’s statement included the number of team members that tested positive, how many days prior to being symptomatic the employee was last at work, and notice of TAO’s decision to close temporarily, evaluate, and assess reopening at a later date. Their post was also met with love and support from the community, as people were grateful for their transparency.

La Fonda followed Tsunami’s example as well, posting on Instagram and Facebook to notify their customers that they will be shutting down to sanitize after an employee tested positive:

Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

Needless to say, these restaurants deserve a round of applause for how they handled the first case popping up in their establishment. If one of your employees tests positive, we highly recommend following their social media examples.

Transparency will help you build relationships with your customers–and loyal ones, at that. In this time of uncertainty and fear, customers are much more likely to remain loyal to companies that help them feel safe.

The wrong way to handle when an employee tests positive for COVID-19

One local chain restaurant that made headlines this weekend was Texas Roadhouse. On Sunday, June 21, local news stations released articles detailing that this restaurant would be remaining open after 7 of their employees tested positive. 

These cases arose despite Texas Roadhouse’s implementation of symptom surveys and employee temperature checks. As of June 23, they have not addressed this on social media and are receiving a whirlwind of backlash:

Here’s where Texas Roadhouse went wrong:

  1. They never notified customers of the risk they may be taking when dining at their restaurant. Instead, customers found out via a news article.
  2. They waited until after receiving the backlash to close down for the day in order to sanitize the restaurant (still without mentioning it on their social media).
  3. They did not take action directly after the first case appeared and waited until the word got out and 7 employees tested positive before performing a deep clean.

Although the CDC does not mandate businesses to close once an employee tests positive, a lack of initial transparency will likely cause you to lose a good portion of your loyal customers for quite a while. Thankfully, you can learn from Texas Roadhouse’s mistakes and follow the examples of TAO, La Fonda, and Tsunami. 

While we hope your workplace is able to stay safe and avoid the virus altogether, it’s important to have a plan ready just in case. Stay up-to-date with the latest tips on marketing during the pandemic by checking out the Bizzuka blog.