State reports coronavirus outbreak among restaurant workers at Leggetts

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MANASQUAN — State officials reported a recent COVID-19 outbreak among workers at Leggetts Sand Bar as the governor declared new restrictions on dining at his Monday press conference.

According to state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, at least nine bartenders and servers contracted COVID-19 in October, which forced the state to send out a public health alert.

“The New Jersey Department of Health would like to notify the public of a potential COVID-19 exposure at a Monmouth County Bar and Grill due to multiple cases linked to the establishment,” the alert stated according to Ms. Persichilli.

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“And then we went on to identify anyone who visited Leggetts Sand Bar located at, and the address, between the dates of Oct. 17 and Oct. 22 may have been exposed to COVID-19,” Ms. Persichilli added.

The Monmouth County Health Department is also investigating the cases and exposures at Leggetts, she said, adding that a site visit was conducted on Oct. 23 and the “restaurant is cooperating.”

The establishment had voluntarily closed between Oct. 22 and Nov. 5 while operating as take-out only, manager Paul Wolf told The Coast Star on Tuesday.

“We voluntarily closed because we wanted to make sure we had a handle on everything and we followed all the guidelines that the board of health had asked us to follow,” Mr. Wolf said, adding that the board of health did not require the bar to close.

All Leggetts employees were required to be tested for the coronavirus when the establishment learned of the first positive employee. Mr. Wolf said that’s when they found out several employees were COVID-19 positive.

Mr. Wolf said that it is his belief that about five or six employees had contracted the virus from a gathering they attended.

“We were very blessed that most of the people had very minimal symptoms; they didn’t have the knock-down, drag-out illness that a lot of people that weren’t so lucky had,” he said. Mr. Wolf added that he had not been informed of any customers contracting the virus.

At the press conference on Monday, both Gov. Phil Murphy and Ms. Persichilli stated that what happened at Leggetts is “just one example” of a broader issue. However, Mr. Wolf said he believes Leggetts has become the scapegoat for the governor’s new dining restrictions.

“Everybody’s assumption is that we’re to blame for this shutdown, which I don’t think is fair that this whole burden has been placed on us. I would assume we’re not the only place that’s had employees have it or multiple employees.

“You can get it [COVID-19] anywhere you go. To say that you’re only going to get it at a bar or a restaurant isn’t fair to our industry. We’ve been under siege since March 16 when this all happened,” Mr. Wolf said.

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