Anyone following the local news of late has seen the sharp increase in daily positive tests of COVID-19 throughout New Mexico. Our state is regularly topping 1,000 new cases per day at this point, so it should come as no surprise that more and more breweries are being forced to temporarily close after a staff member tests positive.
Over the weekend, Turtle Mountain Brewing had to shut down after an employee tested positive. The brewpub sent all of its other employees to be tested, while also undergoing a deep cleaning/sanitizing as per state guidelines. TMBC will be open today (Monday) through Thursday from 3 to 8:30 p.m., skipping the usual lunchtime service. The hours for next weekend are TBD.
“We were sad to close down for the weekend, but the safety and well-being of both our employees and our customers is of paramount importance to me,” owner Nico Ortiz wrote on Facebook.
Considering how much breweries have to rely upon weekend crowds to stay afloat these days, one can understand how hard of a decision this can be financially. Ortiz said TMBC patrons can follow along on Facebook for future updates.
Monday saw two more announcements of immediate closures. Here in Albuquerque, Toltec Brewing said that an employee was exposed to the virus. No employees have tested positive, but out of an abundance of caution, the brewpub will be closed today and Tuesday. There will be a deep cleaning while the employee in question awaits the results of his/her test.
Up in Santa Fe, Second Street has been hit yet again with another employee testing positive. This marks at least the third time this year that we can recall of someone at one of the locations to either be exposed or test positive. While the brewery was able to report that said employee was safe at home and currently asymptomatic, all other staff will now be tested, and the Rufina and Railyard locations will both be closed today and Tuesday.
Further updates for both Toltec and Second Street are pending, and we will update this story or share their social media posts when those become available.
In the end, we can only repeat what we have been saying for months. Please be extra cautious when going out to our breweries. Wear your masks, wash your hands, and if you feel anything out of the ordinary, please stay home or just get items for takeout. It is up to all of us to protect one another, from customers to employees, if we want to keep our breweries in business and their staff members gainfully employed during these difficult times.