Following very public bouts with E. coli and norovirus outbreaks at its restaurants in recent months, Chipotle revamped its safety protocols, mandating that stores be temporarily shut down if someone inside becomes sick. That plan was put into motion Tuesday when a Virginia restaurant closed around lunchtime.
Customers looking for a their mid-day meal were turned away when the arrived at the Chesterfield, VA restaurant, which posted notices announcing a temporary closure, WTVR reports.
Chipotle says the particular store was closed for the day after someone became sick inside. However, the company did not specify if the ill person was a patron or an employee, or if the individual became ill after eating at the restaurant.
“I definitely think that when you’re working around food you should take things like this seriously,” a customer greeted by the closed sign tells WTVR. “I appreciate that they made this gesture. I think others should follow.”
A rep for Chipotle reiterated that the closure was only temporary and only affected one particular restaurant. The store is expected to reopen on Wednesday.
The local health department says that Chipotle notified them of the incident, although it was not required to do so.
A similar temporary closure occurred last month, when an employee at a Chipotle in Massachusetts was diagnosed with norovirus. At the time the illness was reported no customers had turned up ill.
The closures come only months after Chipotle made changes to food handling and preparation policies in response to a norovirus infection that sickened more than 150 people in Boston, and a 9-state outbreak of E. coli tied to food served at the chain.
In addition to new food safety protocols — like having raw veggies chopped at a central kitchen, dipping onions in boiling water, and marinating raw chicken in sealed bags — the burrito chain decided to give employees sick leave, and said that restaurants will be temporarily shut down for cleaning after anyone vomits inside the building.