'Shoulder-to-shoulder': 85 people test positive to coronavirus after visiting busy pub

More than 80 cases of coronavirus have been linked to a pub – but the venue claims it was the line to get in that was the problem.

Previously, just over 30 people, who had been to Harper's Restaurant & Brewpub in Michigan after the establishment reopened earlier this month, tested positive for the coronavirus.

Now there are more than 85 cases linked to the joint.

Of those 85 in the cluster, 80 went to Harper’s between June 12 and June 20, and the other five cases were secondary infections, according to US newspaper Lansing State Journal.

More than 80 cases of coronavirus are now linked to Harper's Restaurant & Brewpub in Michigan. Source: Google Maps, file

When the cluster was first identified, the Ingham County Health Department urged patrons who had been to Harper’s between June 12 and June 20 to self-isolate.

On Facebook, Harper’s explained the establishment reopened on June 8 at 50 per cent capacity, in line with the Governor’s executive order.

“The extraordinary exuberant response to our re-opening has been beyond our expectations, with clientele of all ages enjoying our deck, food from scratch, and our organic, reduced-gluten, craft-brewed beers,” the post said.

However, upon opening Harper’s had a long line waiting out the front and, according to the Detroit Free Press, the patrons were lining up “ shoulder-to-shoulder”.

“We have attempted to instruct customers waiting in line to wear face coverings and practice social distancing through signage on the public sidewalk and with a banner on our railing,” Harper’s explained.

“Our oversight of the line on our stairs has been successful, but trying to get customers to follow our recommendations on the public sidewalk has been challenging.”

On June 9, a reporter for Michigan State University's student-run The State News shared a video of the line outside Harper’s, which shows the patrons were lining up down the street in hopes of getting in.

“Still not many... seen wearing masks,” reporter Kaishi Chhabra tweeted, sharing a photo of the line outside and another video of patrons inside the pub, which also looked considerably full.

The pub has no control over what happens on the sidewalk, the post continues to say, which also confirmed on June 23, the pub would shut for two reasons.

The first reason being the pub wanted to devise a strategy to eliminate lines and the second was to install an air-purifying system inside.

“This closing will cause a hardship on many of our employees through the loss of wages that had just re-started,” the statement read on Facebook.

“This at a time when they are just overcoming a three-month layoff. They have rent, mortgages, car payments, grocery bills and everyday living expenses to address. But we believe for the safety of all, it is the right thing to do.”

On Twitter, Chhabra has continually reiterated many of the other restaurants and pubs in the area have managed to reopen without outbreaks.

“Indoor dining is not the problem. Many local restaurants, as well as some of the bars in East Lansing have safely opened up since June 8,” she tweeted, adding she could confidently affirm bars and restaurants were following safety guidelines.

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