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COVID: San Francisco Bay Area Restaurants Temporarily Close Due to Breakthrough Cases Among Staff

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- As the highly contagious delta variant surges in the San Francisco Bay Area, more restaurants are choosing to temporarily close their doors due to breakthrough cases among staff members.

The sign outside the Moroccan restaurant Aziza on Geary Boulevard reads that it will be temporarily closed for all services until further notice, adding "Stay healthy and wear your mask."

Managing Partner Scott Chilcutt says the tough call was made after a guest came down with COVID. The entire staff subsequently got tested, and three workers tested positive shortly after.

"We really went out of our way to make sure that we sanitized everything and followed all the rules for 14 months, we had no issues," Chilcutt told KPIX 5. "We opened up again in March, required all of our staff to be vaccinated and to have this happen now, when we were already running so short staffed, it's pretty heartbreaking."

Chilcutt says the two-and-a-half week closure means a loss of $75,000 in sales, wages, and wasted product.

"It's costly not just for the business, but for our staff who lost their income for two weeks. But ultimately, it was the well-being and safety of our staff and our guests," said Chilcutt.

The closure comes at a time when restaurants are steadily recovering and searching for workers. Thai restaurant Nari in Japantown is also closed until Wednesday because of three breakthrough cases among its fully vaccinated staff.

Nari's management said in part on its Instagram post announcing the closure: "One of the cases is asymptomatic and two are mildly symptomatic. Because of this, we've decided to remain shuttered through the weekend to allow all our staff to be tested twice before we reopen our dining room on the 11th.

When we were first alerted that one of our team members was exposed to someone who later displayed symptoms of Covid, the entirety of our staff got tested. The original team member who was exposed tested positive, and subsequently developed mild symptoms. All other team members tested negative at first, however, two of the negative rapid antigen results turned out to be positive once given a PCR test.

We are sharing such detailed information because we want the community to be aware of our experience with the the unreliability of antigen tests. We decided to require the rest of the staff who had taken antigen tests to be retested again with PCR tests. We are also having all staff be tested again in five days, in order to allow for the full incubation period so we can ensure everything is as safe as possible when we welcome guests back in on Wednesday."

Ramen Shop on College Avenue in Oakland also posted a sign stating that fully vaccinated staff members tested positive. It announced it's temporary closure on Instagram as well.

Currently, 78% of eligible San Francisco residents are fully vaccinated.

Hospitalizations are quickly rising. As of August 3, there were 104 patients hospitalized with COVID, compared to 15 exactly one month prior.

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