Waffle House CEO: COVID-19 cases not linked to his restaurants

Five facts about Georgia-based Waffle House.

Georgia chain has reportedly not experienced any outbreaks at its 2,100 locations

Despite restaurants being linked to numerous COVID-19 cases, the CEO of a popular Georgia-based breakfast chain says its more than 2,100 locations have been devoid of any links to cases of the virus.

Walter Ehmer, CEO of Waffle House, spoke with Fox News’ “America’s News HQ” over the weekend about the restaurant chain’s exceptional record of zero COVID-19 cases being linked to its restaurants.

At the start of the pandemic in March, Waffle House, like many restaurants, closed thousands of locations and designated some as takeout only. However, in recent months, those restaurants have returned to full service, with restrictions.

ExploreAtlanta restaurants that have permanently closed amid coronavirus pandemic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in September that adults who tested positive for coronavirus were about twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant than those who tested negative. Those statistics do not account for all restaurants, Ehmer said. Linking restaurants to outbreaks have been harmful to American workers as well, he said.

Though Ehmer reports no cases have been linked to Waffle House, some workers have tested positive for the disease, including one worker at a Canton location in March.

“We have proven, over these nine months, we have zero evidence of any spread being traced back to our restaurants for our people or our customers,” he said. “We’ve traced back all of our infections … and it all traces back to something away from the restaurant.”

We're working to learn the steps the company is taking to keep customers safe.

“We are disproportionately hurting American people who are wanting to work for no data and no science that ties back to that being a dangerous place,” he added.

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In metro Atlanta, dozens of restaurants have shuttered due to the COVID-19 crisis, including Ammazza in Decatur, Amsterdam Cafe, Genki Noodles and Sushi and many more. Restaurant owners have reached out for help with things such as rent and utility bills with business down due to diners’ concerns about the coronavirus.

Ehmer told Fox News the impact on workers and potential customers will continue whether dining areas are closed or not, so efforts should be made to encourage dining and reopen restaurants to full capacity.

“Shutting down restaurant dining rooms virtually has no impact on reducing the spread. And what it does have is a certain devastating impact on the millions of people in this industry that look to restaurants to provide their livelihood … and at this time of year to buy Christmas presents for their kids,” he said.

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