Papi's Mex Grill is a distribution point for at-home Covid testing kits set aside for restaurant staff in the Fresno area. Photo by Breanna Hardy

published on January 17, 2022 - 10:06 AM
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Fresno-area restaurants will receive 15,000 at-home Covid tests in order to keep their doors open and their workforce healthy and staffed. 

The handouts are part of 84,000 test kits Fresno County is receiving to help vulnerable populations affected by rising Covid-19 cases. 

“We know that that’s potentially a vulnerable sector, and also an essential sector that serves the public. So we really want to keep all of our restaurants open as much as we can, but also keep them safe,” said Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra. 

Raul Gutierrez, president of the California Restaurant Association and owner of Papi’s Mex Grill, shared that there are several restaurant workers dealing with Covid. Some restaurants have had to shorten hours or operate with a skeleton crew. 

He said that handing out test kits to restaurant workers offers owners a leg up to know whether a staff member is sick. Two tests come in one kit.

Gutierrez is working with the Fresno/Clovis Visitors Bureau, the Clovis Chamber of Commerce and the Fresno County Health Department. 

There will be five different pick-up stations for restaurateurs to grab at-home test kits — Sal’s in Selma, Lincoln Brewery in the Tower District, Fresno/Clovis Visitors Bureau, the Clovis Chamber of Commerce and Papi’s Mex Grill. These locations will serve major corners of Fresno. 

“We’re hoping that everyone will be able to get about five tests each, or five kits, a total of 10 tests, to be able to be used for their staff,” Gutierrez said.

He said they will have about 15,000 tests with hopes they will reach every restaurant in need of testing kits. 

“It’s really going to be about getting the word out, getting the tests out as quickly as possible to as many restaurants as possible,” Gutierrez said.

Vohra said these test kits are vital to help restaurants keep operating properly. 

Self reporting either a positive or negative Covid test can be done at the Fresno County COVID-19 Self-Test webpage or by calling Fresno County COVID-19 Information Line at (888) 559-2683.

Lorraine Salazar, second vice chair for the California Restaurant Association and co-owner of Sal’s Mexican Restaurant, said restaurant employees face a lot of virus exposure. These tests give peace of mind to know right away if they’ve contracted Covid-19.

“That helps us to be able to plan and know for businesses what their staffing is going to be, and then making those decisions as necessary,” Salazar said. 

Vohra sees this as another layer of protection in addition to the food and safety protocols restaurants already have in place. 

“Having these antigen tests available I think is really just going to help our restaurant community, keeping our team members safe and keeping businesses being able to make the decisions that they need to make and keep them open,” Salazar said. 

The five pick-up locations are listed below: 

  • — Papi’s Mex Grill, 1560 E Champlain Dr. #101, Fresno
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  • — Sal’s Mexican Restaurant, 2163 Park St., Selma
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  • — The Lincoln Pub & Grub, 609 E. Olive Ave., Suite A, Fresno
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  • — Clovis Chamber of Commerce, 325 Pollasky Ave., Clovis
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  • Fresno/Clovis Convention & Visitors Bureau, 1180 E. Shaw Ave., Suite 201, Fresno
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