Fairfield bakery extends COVID-related closure to Saturday

Isabelle et Vincent, a french bakery in Fairfield, Conn., March 4, 2014.

Isabelle et Vincent, a french bakery in Fairfield, Conn., March 4, 2014.

Ned Gerard / Ned Gerard

FAIRFIELD — Isabelle et Vincent will stay closed a little longer after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus, the owners said.

Mike Saulsberry, who owns Isabelle et Vincent with his wife, Jill, said the employee who tested positive had last been in the building on Oct. 17, adding that she tested positive a few days later.

“We shut the bakery down,” he said. “We sent our our employees out for testing. We contacted the health department.”

Saulsberry also shared the news on the bakery’s Facebook page, announcing it was being proactive in responding to “the COVID-19 situation” it had.

“We have mandated testing for our employees at our cost, and in addition, we are following the health department’s guidelines that the bakery remain closed until Saturday, October 31,” the bakery said in a recent Facebook post.

On Oct. 20, the bakery posted that a production employee had tested positive for coronavirus. It originally said the establishment would be closed until Oct. 23 to ensure all of the employees’ test results came back negative.

Saulsberry said all 24 of their part-time and full-time employees, as well as he and Jill, tested negative. He said they contacted the health department, who informed them that they could not reopen until everyone working in the bakery had quarantined for two weeks.

Robert Guerrera, Fairfield’s assistant director of health for environmental health, said the owners of Isabelle et Vincent closed the business on their own volition. He said the employee who tested positive is not a Fairfield resident and, therefore, the department is not involved in contact tracing for that case.

“But, our contact tracer, our sanitarian, has met with the owner many times and discussed procedures that they should take,” Guerrera said.

When an employee at a business tests positive, Guerrera said, and does not live in town, the state and the town they live in are in charge of following that case and doing contact tracing. He said the health department does not follow up with customers who patron the business.

“We talk to them about their close contacts if they’re in town, and then we take it from there,” he said. “We probably would not know if customers (were in) close contact with them, because they wouldn’t know who they were.”

Guerrera said it would be a challenging undertaking to contact every customer a business had every time someone tests positive. He noted most customers are not within six feet of employees for more than 15 minutes — the qualification for being in close contact with infected people.

Saulsberry said this is the first time they have had one of their employees test positive during the pandemic, and credits the thorough cleaning as one of the reasons for that. He also said every person working at the bakery wears masks from the moment they walk in until the moment they leave.

“We use gloves extensively,” he said, noting the price for 1,000 vinyl gloves increased from $32 to $115 dollars in recent weeks.

Saulsberry said the employee who tested positive will not be returning to the bakery until she has tested negative for COVID-19 three times. As a business owner, he said he wants to see Connecticut get through the pandemic.

“This is very painful — for us to shut down,” Saulsberry said, adding that they listen to the health department because it protects the community. “But we hope it’s a short-term issue to fix a long term problem.”