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Restaurants sharing COVID-19 positive cases with the public, a 'sign of care, not failure'

Restaurants are not required to tell the public when employees contract COVID-19.

In its nearly 20 years in business, Feedstore BBQ and More in Southlake has never had to close for illness – until this week.

The restaurant closed this week after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus. Owner Mike Lafavers shared the news on Facebook. 

"We're really kind of open and honest," he said. "If anything's going on, we generally tell."

Lafavers opted to close the restaurant for two days and told customers that the business was "gonna clean top to bottom." 

The restaurant wasn't required to share with the public that an employee had COVID-19, but Lafavers felt it was the right thing to do. 

Other business owners are doing the same. 

From Zoli's Pizza to the Lunch Box, both in Fort Worth, some restaurants are opting to publicly announce when employees get sick, even though they don't have to.

RELATED: Increase in Tarrant County coronavirus cases a 'clear correlation' with reopening activities, health director says

"We've had seven restaurants in Tarrant County in the last few days announce they've had COVID cases," said Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy. 

He says their transparency should be commended.

"These are the safest restaurants, the ones that tell you about the case, tell you they've cleaned up and tell you they've gotten their employees tested," Kennedy said.

The Texas Restaurant Association echoed that on Facebook, saying, "Please know that when a restaurant temporarily closes due to a case of COVID-19, it's because they're taking every precaution to protect our communities."

The Association says, "It's a sign of care, not failure, and portraying them in a negative light for acting responsibly only encourages other businesses to cut corners with our health and safety."

Some restaurants, such as Zoli's, are taking it a step further and now requiring masks be worn by all customers when they're not seated.

"I'm going to keep my family safe, and I'm going to keep my customers safe," Lafavers said.

Lafavers says feedback on his transparency has been all supportive, and he is back open for business.

RELATED: Space and distancing guidelines keep some North Texas restaurants from expanding capacity to 75%

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