Millie’s restaurant is facing a cluster of COVID-19 cases among staff members at the popular Madaket establishment, and as of last night it was unclear whether the restaurant would open for business today. The developments resulted in some Millie’s staff members quitting their jobs over the weekend.
Five fully vaccinated staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Eaghmon Banks, director of operations at Millie’s. Since those results became known over the weekend, the restaurant subsequently provided its entire workforce – 62 employees – with antigen COVID-19 tests, and those specimens all came back negative, Banks said last night.
All staff members will be required to wear masks inside Millie’s moving forward, and Banks added that the restaurant was following all CDC guidelines, and in some cases going beyond them. As to whether Millie’s would be open today, he stated, “I don’t know. I’m waiting to hear back from the Health Department. We’re looking for guidance. If that’s what they suggest we would close down immediately.”
Millie’s is one of the few island businesses that has implemented a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all staff members, requiring employees to get vaccinated before commencing work. So that would mean the Millie’s staff members who tested positive for COVID-19 represent more so-called “breakthrough” cases in which fully-vaccinated individuals become infected. While the town and Nantucket Cottage Hospital have reported more than two dozen breakthrough cases in recent weeks, they emphasize that the vaccines have proven extremely effective in preventing serious illness and deaths. Nationwide, more than 97 percent of patients who required hospitalization for COVID-19 in recent weeks are unvaccinated.
Meanwhile, four other Millie’s staff members have quit their jobs in the wake of the positive COVID-19 tests, and another said they would be leaving the restaurant two weeks early because they couldn’t risk getting sick.
One of Millie’s employees who quit contacted the Current over the weekend and claimed the defections were as high as 15 employees, but Banks disputed that account. The employee, who agreed to talk with the Current on the condition of anonymity, was critical of the way in which Millie’s had handled the situation.
Banks pointed to an email Millie’s had sent out to employees in which management told staff they didn’t have to come in for their shift if they did not feel comfortable given the news, and that there would be no repercussions.
“I feel very confident in what our group has done to keep everyone safe,” he added.
The ex-employee, however, said that email went out only after staff members began to quit their posts.
Millie’s is part of Bo Blair’s larger company Georgetown Events, which operates a handful of other restaurants, food trucks and catering services in and around Washington D.C.