‘It was too soon’: 16 infected at pub
As countries around the world relax restrictions after months of lockdown, a night out at the pub in the United States which ended in 16 friends being infected with coronavirus shows that it still pays to social distance.
Here in Australia pubs, restaurants and gyms have begun the process of reopening but with strict limits on how many customers can access them at any given time.
The loosening of lockdown restrictions have been made on a state-by-state basis as Australia continues to record very low rates of community coronavirus transmission.
In the United States, bars and restaurants have also reopened despite the continued community transmission of coronavirus.
Florida health worker Erika Crisp said she and 15 of her friends had been stuck at home for months when they decided to go out to a newly-opened bar in Jacksonville on June 6.
But they would come to regret the decision, with all 16 of them plus seven of Lynch's Irish Pub employees all testing positive to COVID-19.
The only common link between all 23 of the coronavirus cases is that they were all inside the pub on the same night.
Ms Crisp, who works as a care management assistant at a medical centre, told local news station News4Jax they had been practising social distancing for months when they decided to let off some steam.
"We've all been stuck indoors for months, being careful, social distancing, doing everything the right way," she said.
But Ms Crisp came to regret the decision when she began experiencing coronavirus symptoms a few days later and tested positive for the virus.
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When the group of 16 began testing positive for coronavirus, Lynch's Irish Pub was closed for a deep clean and all 49 of the bar's staff were tested.
Seven employees returned a positive coronavirus result.
Ms Crisp said she regretted being "careless" but had thought she would be safe as Florida's state government had made the decision to re-open businesses.
"I think we were careless, and we went out into a public place when we should not have. And we were not wearing mask," she said.
"I think we had a whole 'out of sight, out of mind' mentality. The state opens back up and said everybody was fine, so we took advantage of that."
The healthcare worker now believes it is too early in the pandemic to start going out in public again, urging people to be cautious.
"We should be wearing masks. We should be social distancing," Ms Crisp said. "It was too soon to open everything back up."
Florida's confirmed coronavirus cases have risen sharply again and set a daily record weeks after the state began restarting its economy.
The state's Department of Health reported 2783 new confirmed cases on Tuesday, breaking the record of 2581 new cases set on Friday.
The numbers on both days are almost double the previous high of 1601 set in mid-May. Florida's coronavirus cases have spread to the team that operates United States' hurricane hunter aeroplanes.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials said on Tuesday that five employees at the team's Lakeland, Florida, base tested positive last week, forcing others into quarantine.
Florida governor Ron DeSantis last week said the upward trend in confirmed cases was mostly a reflection of more testing for the virus combined with spikes in some agriculture communities.
But the number of tests performed daily peaked three weeks ago, and the percentage of positive tests is now over 6 per cent - more than double the 2.3 per cent rate in late May.
- With AP
Originally published as 'It was too soon': 16 infected at pub