HERITAGEDINING

The Olde Heritage Tavern in Lenox will be closed for two days after two diners reported that they had received positive COVID-19 test results the day after visiting the restaurant. "They broke the rules," said owner John McNinch, noting they should not have visited the restaurant while apparently awaiting test results.

LENOX — Out of “an abundance of caution,” Olde Heritage Tavern owner John McNinch has closed his establishment for two days after two different, local customers who dined there reported receiving a positive test result for COVID-19 the day after eating at the restaurant.

McNinch said he made the decision to close on Thursday and Friday on his own, not at the direction of Tri-Town Health, the regional agency that serves Lee, Lenox and Stockbridge.

“We’re hoping to reopen on Saturday,” he told The Eagle.

“We’re awaiting test results from staff members who had contact with the customers,” McNinch pointed out. “We’re doing deep cleaning, as we do every day.”

Those staffers are quarantined until they receive negative test results, he added.

McNinch voiced surprise and disappointment that the patrons chose to visit the restaurant on Monday and Tuesday night, since they must have been awaiting test results at the time.

“They broke the rules, and that put us in a tough spot,” he said. “They knew they had a test pending, they were supposed to be quarantined, but they went out to a restaurant.”

“People need to be smart about the rules,” McNinch said. “The rules work, and we follow them. There are restaurants that don’t.”

After making the decision to close temporarily, he posted a notice for customers who use Facebook.

“We ask for everyone to please follow the rules and guidelines put in place by Governor Baker,” McNinch wrote. “If we all follow the state rules, we will all get out of this sooner. If you are not feeling well or are waiting for test results, stay home in quarantine.”

The longtime owner of the town’s popular watering hole and gathering spot for residents and visitors emphasized that “we do not want anyone to risk the health, safety and livelihood of the people of our community. The best way to support local businesses and the Berkshire County community is by following all regulations, wearing your mask, washing your hands and practicing social distancing.”

McNinch thanked the community for its support. “We hope that everyone stays safe and healthy!” he stated.

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com, on Twitter @BE_cfanto or at 413-637-2551.