Strosniders Hardware in Bethesda reopened Tuesday and is operating during what it described as “modified hours.”
The store had been closed since Jan. 2 after multiple employees tested positive for COVID-19.
The store posted the announced on its social media pages and alerted customers on Monday that it would operate from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting Tuesday.
“We appreciate your patience and well wishes during this time,” a message stated.
Bill Hart III, one of the owners, told Bethesda Beat last week that the company closed the Bethesda store, at 6930 Arlington Road, after employees began to report that they had tested positive for the virus. As of Jan. 4, about a dozen employees had tested positive.
Hart, in an interview on Monday, said anyone who tested positive was told to quarantine for 10 days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a 14-day quarantine, but states that 10 days is acceptable if no symptoms are reported.
“They’re allowed back in as long as they’re symptom-free and they’ve waited 10 days,” Hart said. “The other employees, that tested negative, have had to have two negative tests come back before they can come back to work.”
Hart declined to say how many employees had tested positive as of Monday evening.
“I want people to feel comfortable, and they have to know that we’ve done everything with the county guidelines on getting our store back open safely. So, there’s no reason not to feel safe to come to our store,” he said.
Hart said the hours are being shortened due to the fact that Strosniders will have a reduced staff for now. In the meantime, the store will take steps to ensure social distancing, such as limiting the number of people inside and encouraging customers to use curbside pickup.
Two people wrote to Bethesda Beat after an earlier story about the outbreak last week that they or a family member have contracted the virus, and had been to Strosniders, but there was no proof that there was a connection.
Montgomery County health officials have said that in general, outbreaks such as the one at Strosniders are lower risk because customers aren’t likely to have prolonged exposure to employees at a distance of less than six feet.
Mary Anderson, a spokeswoman for Montgomery County’s health department, said on Monday in response to questions about the outbreak that it would be difficult to determine that those who visited the store contracted the virus there.
“I doubt that a person who’s gone to Strosniders hasn’t also gone to a grocery store or dropped a child off at child care centers. You know what I mean? So, it can be challenging to find out where exactly someone was exposed,” she said.
Anderson said she would check in with a county epidemiologist to find out the latest on the outbreak investigation.
Dan Schere can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org