By Tashanea Whitlow

CHATHAM (CBS) – Chatham health officials are alerting restaurants after nine people, with restaurant ties, tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a house party in Chatham earlier this month.

Dr. Robert Duncanson, Director of Chatham’s Department of Public Health, said social distancing and mask-wearing was not enforced at the party that around 60 people attended. That decision is now impacting the Cape community.

“Young people here in the summer, are often working at restaurants and they’re hanging out with each other,” said Tracy Shields, owner of Hangar B in Chatham.

Shields stopped indoor dining services at her restaurant for the next two weeks, after one of her employees notified her of a friend who tested positive for coronavirus. That employee did test negative for the virus, but out of an abundance of caution, they are going into self-quarantine, along with two other employees. Shields is losing one quarter of her staff during the busiest time of the season.

“It seemed like the safest thing to do was to anybody that had maybe been interacting with this group of young people to just isolate and not come in for two weeks,” Shields said.

On Wednesday night, Kream N’Kone in Chatham announced it was closing because one employee tested positive for COVID-19. The restaurant will be closed for cleaning and so employees can get tested.

At the height of the Cape’s tourism season, Harwich Port officials announced five new cases of COVID-19 since last Friday with seven people in isolation. In an emergency order issued Tuesday, the town is enforcing a mask order starting Thursday.

“For everybody’s well-being, it’s not difficult for everyone to wear a mask, wash your hands, [and] social distance,” said vacationer Dee Townes, who is visiting from Waltham.

Bear Fisher of Osterville, a regular customer at Hangar B, agrees with the restaurant’s decision to stop indoor dining. “I think they’re protecting their employees, which is actually probably the best thing,” Fisher said.

Vacationer Don Drinkwater of Carlisle believes wearing a mask is your best defense against the virus and doesn’t understand why people are opposed to wearing them. “I don’t see the big deal in wearing a mask,” he said.

Chatham also declared a public health emergency order, requiring face coverings in most public areas. Face coverings may be removed while eating and drinking. Violations of the order could result in a written warning for the first violation, a $100 fine for a second violation and a $300 fine for a third or subsequent violation.

Tashanea Whitlow

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