PLATTSBURGH — After the Clinton County Health Department reported on Friday a possible COVID-19 exposure at his downtown club, Retro Live owner Chris Neil urged community members to be mindful of others.
"If you feel you've been around somebody who has had it or if you've been in an environment where you know that people were just not caring — be more cautious," he said.
"Be smarter about what you're doing and think about the people who are around you."
Any residents who visited the Margaret Street establishment on Saturday, Feb. 20 between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. were asked to self-monitor for virus-related symptoms over the 14-day period following the date of possible exposure.
CCHD advised they watch for symptoms like fever, cough, congestion, chills and loss of taste and/or smell.
"If experiencing these or other symptoms of illness seek immediate testing by contacting your medical provider or an urgent care center," a Friday news release says.
While Retro Live's Facebook page says it's open Fridays and Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Neil says he typically doesn't open up until 8 p.m. or later, saying patrons rarely showed up any earlier.
The spot, located in Suite C of the Riverview building in downtown City of Plattsburgh, was a popular nightclub before the COVID-19 pandemic. Once open from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., it has a 2,500-square-foot dancefloor and a 600-person capacity limit.
The club is now a late-night food and drink stop, with tables and chairs taking up the dancefloor, and rarely serves more than 20 to 40 people a night.
"It hasn't been a dancefloor since last year," Neil said. "It's been almost a year now."
Retro Live once supported just under 20 employees, but the pandemic turned the operation into a one man show.
"It's just me," the owner said. "It's sad, really sad. They need their jobs back and I can't even help them."
As it is, Neil said he's not profiting under his current business model.
"Just because you open the door doesn't mean you're making money."
Neil said he screens customers at the door for COVID symptoms, taking their temperatures.
He said he did so on the night of the possible exposure and said no one had shown noticeable symptoms.
Retro Live's tables are situated several feet apart, per the state's guidelines, and mask wearing is enforced when guests aren't seated.
"There is no standing without a mask on," Neil said.
He noted his upped cleaning protocols that sometimes kept him onsite into the early hours of the morning.
"I go through bottles of sanitizer so fast," he said. "The bathrooms smell like sanitizer when you walk in."
Neil was confident the COVID-positive individual had been exposed outside of his establishment and called it a "freak accident."
He noted how small businesses, like his, were following the rules, but felt events, like house parties, were detrimental to slowing COVID-19 spread.
"There are no rules there," he said, adding that individuals should be cautious after such an event.
Though he thought some may shy away from Retro Live after hearing of the possible exposure there, Neil said the virus could be anywhere at anytime.
"It doesn't matter who you are or where you're at," he continued. "If this deters people, they might as well never go outside of the house."
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