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Tampa restaurant voluntarily closes dining room to stop the spread of COVID-19

Gen X Tavern is now open for take-out only, a decision made after management realized COVID-19 will continue to affect their staff and customers.

TAMPA, Fla. — As the number of positive COVID-19 cases continues to grow across Florida, businesses are beginning to shutter again...just weeks after reopening.

Restaurants in Miami-Dade county are closing Wednesday for dine-in service, just seven weeks after reopening. Vacation rentals, movie theatres and casinos are also closing their doors again to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

In the Tampa Bay area, there are currently no plans to re-close businesses, but some business owners are taking it upon themselves to lock up their dining rooms.

Gen X Tavern in Tampa announced on social media that they were shifting to take out service only after two employees tested positive for COVID-19 twice within a week.

"We've seen cases skyrocket and we're setting new daily records in recent weeks. It became apparent it [closing] was something that was going to happen eventually. It wasn't practical to shut down every time it happened. It was a tough decision, but also an easy decision," said Chris Falls, the general manager at Gen X Tavern.

10 Tampa Bay recently discovered that under Florida state law, businesses are not required to disclose positive cases of COVID-19 to their customers, nor are they required to close after an employee tests positive.

"Our sole reason for existing as a bar, as a restaurant is to serve the public. We'd be doing the public a big disservice if we withheld this information for a short term monetary gain," explained Falls. The eatery announced on social media both times employees tested positive for COVID-19, before closing their dining room for cleaning. 

"We're doing daily temperature checks, symptom checks and offering reimbursement to get tested if that's something they want to do. If someone has symptoms of any kind, they're dismissed for the day until their test results come back," said Falls. 

Falls said closing the dining room to customers hurts business right now, but the safety of his staff and customers is more important. He also says because of COVID-19 closures, the tavern has had to find other sources of revenue. They've expanded online ordering and offer different to-go packages they were not able to provide before, helping grow their business in other ways.

RELATED: How risky is dining out during the COVID-19 pandemic?

RELATED: Miami-Dade County is closing restaurants and gyms again

RELATED: Florida suspends drinking at bars as COVID-19 cases continue to spike statewide

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