Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health says there was no lab-confirmed case of COVID-19 involved in the temporary closure of a Kingston, Ont., Tim Hortons drive-thru restaurant.
Public Health says they were made aware of the reported case from Tim Hortons first Wednesday night, and conducted a thorough investigation, which has now been closed.
“We have had no positive test reported to us of any employee within our jurisdiction, at any Tim Hortons or at any Esso or gas station,” Dr. Kieran Moore, medical officer of health for the region, said Friday.
Moore said when the owner of the Esso gas station called into public health Wednesday evening, public health immediately realized it could not confirm that a case had arisen in Kingston, at either a gas station or a Tim Hortons.
“We’ve been having an ongoing dialog to try to figure out where this person could have potentially gotten tested. And we just haven’t been able to find any positive test of any individual that is in their employee,” Moore said Friday.
Nevertheless, the Tim Hortons drive-thru at 2821 Princess St. in Kingston, and the attached Esso gas station, were both closed Thursday, and cleaning crews were on site sanitizing the interior of the building.
In a statement sent Thursday before public health publicly announced no positive case linked to the drive-thru, Tim Hortons said it closed the location at a busy west-end intersection on Wednesday after learning one of its employees had tested positive for the virus. According to the company, the employee’s last shift was Sept. 10 and they are in the process of self-isolating for 14 days.
Moore said he could not comment on how the news of the positive case first arose.
“We’re not sure of what the communication was between the employee and the employer. We can only confirm that there was no positive test that we’ve received,” Moore said.
When asked if he thought the positive case was misrepresented to Tim Hortons, Moore didn’t speculate on specifics, but urged honesty between employees and their employers.
“Well, I think it’s essential that we be honest and open between employers and employees now, and an employer is going to have to understand these are difficult times going forward in an abundance of caution,” Moore said.
Tim Hortons’ corporate communications has not responded to further requests for comment, including how the news of the positive case was confirmed to them, and whether their employee was being truthful about the results of their test.
The reported case seems also not to be linked to any nearby health units.
“We’ve looked across Ontario to see if there’s been any tests done in any other jurisdiction for someone in KFLA. And we have done our due diligence that we don’t think there was any risk or any exposure in those workplaces,” Moore said.
He said the decision to close the gas station was made in an abundance of caution, and not at the directive of public health.
“We were, frankly a little surprised that they communicated risk in advance of any confirmation from us. And that’s potentially a lesson learned locally,” Moore said.
The Tim Hortons drive-thru reopened Friday, as did service outside the gas station, but as of the morning, the gas station building itself remained closed. Global News has tried to reach out the the Tim Hortons franchise owner, as well as the gas station owner repeatedly, but has yet to hear anything back.
Moore said he sympathized with the owner of the Esso gas station, and applauded his efforts to keep the community safe by making the decision to close his business, but asked in the future that any affected business consult with public health before they communicate potential risk of infection to the community.
“We don’t want any businesses just immediately going off and saying that there was a risk and potentially threatening their own business. I just don’t want to see that happen,” Moore said.View link »