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Brewery encouraging customers to get tested after coronavirus exposure

MISHAWAKA, Ind. – Smokestack Brew has shut down operations after learning customers and its staff was exposed to the coronavirus Saturday, June 27 during a live music event.

The popular bar & grill also encourages other businesses to do the same if they had someone who came by test positive, owners said, even if it means sacrificing revenue during the holiday weekend.

Rebecca Strand, a frequent customer, said she was exposed to the person at the restaurant's live music event while not wearing a mask herself, but does not blame the business.

“They’re trying to stay afloat,” Strand said. “They’re doing everything they can on their end. They make sure all their employees have been tested. They’ve increased their cleaning procedures, stuff like that.”

While it plans to remain closed until July 17, its co-owner Troy Kirts said in a statement to ABC57,

“This time will give our customers and staff time to get tested to (ensure) there is no accidental spread. We will also use time to carefully clean our facility, including utilizing ozone generators and UVC germicidal lamps.”

At Hop Station, another popular Mishawaka craft spot, owner Casey Stuber had already accepted that no fireworks shows or other local events would mean the best move for the weekend is to be closed Saturday through Monday.

“We’re not open late at night so that would make more sense if we were open late at night, maybe we’d be open,” Stuber said. “But we want people to spend time with their families too, drinking really good beer out there.”

Strand said she applauds Smokestack Brew and other businesses in the area for not trying to go ahead with some Fourth of July events amid growing coronavirus cases.

“Maybe it’s a little bit of a bummer we can’t go out to our favorite bars or something like that, but it’s just kind of a sobering reminder…that we still have to stay vigilant,” Strand said. “You can’t stop just because things are opening. You can’t just stop caring.”

Since hearing news that many at The Smokestack Brew might have visited other bars like Phoenix, Five Star, and Hop Station afterwards that same night, Stuben said he’ll now encourage staff to get tested as well.

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