Dozen COVID-19 cases linked to Arnprior restaurant

ARNPRIOR – The Renfrew County District Heath Unit (RCDHU) is attributing more than a dozen of Renfrew County’s confirmed cases to a popular night out in the Town of Arnprior.

The RCDHU reports possible exposure is linked to The Prior Sports Bar and Restaurant on Wednesday, Feb. 17 – Wednesdays are busy at The Prior with Wing Night being a long-standing tradition at the popular pub.

The RCDHU is warning anyone (staff and patrons) who attended the establishment on Feb. 17, between 11 a.m. and midnight (although the restaurant closes as 8 p.m.) to “immediately self-isolate” and arrange for a COVID-19 test.

The health unit has been doing contact management of high-risk contacts connected to the exposure, but said, “There is some concern that some individuals may still be infected with COVID-19 and we are trying to prevent further spread.”

Anyone who was at the bar during those hours can contact the Renfrew County Virtual Triage Assessment Centre at 1-844-727-6404 to schedule a test.

The Prior was one of the first restaurants in south Renfrew County to install plexiglass shields at their bar, effectively sealing off patrons in their own bar. The Prior also instituted hand-sanitizing and contact tracing upon entrance under the watchful eye of seating staff as well as other heightened COVID-19 safety measures.

“As much as we have done everything we think we could have, the bad news hit us last night,” The Prior Sports Bar and Family Restaurant released in a statement Tuesday (March 2). “One of our employees has tested positive for COVID despite all our best efforts – she has not been at work since Feb. 20 and has been isolating as required. This news has hit us hard during a time that has been especially hard anyway. Good news is that she is starting to feel better and is hopefully on the mend.”

The Prior “in an abundance of caution” voluntarily closed this week and, “depending on test results, will re-evaluate for the week of March 10.”

Prior management acknowledged the risk the entire service industry is under during the pandemic in a statement Feb. 28.

“We understand most people are doing their part but unfortunately, our industry requires customers to have their masks off, potentially exposing other customers and staff unknowingly,” ownership said. “Many sacrifices have been made for almost a year now, and we are all suffering from COVID fatigue, but now is the first time we have seen it actively within our community – now is not the time to be passive and stop being vigilant. We wish those inflicted a speedy recovery and we hope to be open to serve you in-house again.”