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Optimist Hall worker concerned for safety from crowds, and coronavirus case

The employee described crowded interiors and a feeling of helplessness.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Optimist Hall has been packed on weekend despite the coronavirus pandemic, an employee told WCNC Charlotte. He fears for his own health especially after a recently confirmed COVID-19 case inside their building.

Optimist Hall, which hosts booths from numerous restaurants and retailers, announced on Facebook Friday an employee of the Dumpling Lady restaurant tested positive for the coronavirus.

"The employee, who is asymptomatic and last worked on Monday 11/16, is now isolating at home and will not return to work until the CDC-recommended criteria to discontinue isolation have been met," the Facebook post said. "We have alerted the health department to this development."

The employee who spoke with WCNC Charlotte, and asked not to publish his identity out of concern for his employment, expressed concern for his wellbeing. 

“I feel very uncomfortable,” the employee said. “I work in one of the stalls there."

The employee who spoke to WCNC Charlotte said the weekend crowds have packed the place.

"It feels like more people in there than there should be most days. It's not uncommon for them to have a very full building," the employee said.

The employee said that was the case last Saturday after an outdoor event was moved indoors.

"They had a musician scheduled to play outside, and they thought it was too cold so they moved him indoors," the employee said, "which to me just screamed large gathering.”

He said while customers who do not feel comfortable have the option to leave, he and the other employees cannot leave.

“Myself and many other employees who I've talked to feel like we’re just sort of being forgotten about and our safety isn’t being taken into concern at all," the employee said. 

“It makes me feel sort of helpless, you know," the employee said. "The whole building is a lot of tiny spaces. There’s really no way to get away from people.”

Dumpling Lady stall was closed during the week to be cleaned and sanitized, according to the Facebook post. Their employees were expected to be tested.

The employee who spoke to WCNC Charlotte hopes management will reduce the number of people inside the building.

“I feel like I'm just sort of always at risk, or potentially carrying even," the employee said.

WCNC Charlotte has reached out to Optimist Hall for a statement on this matter but has not heard back yet. In their Facebook statement, they have said they plan to remain open and follow CDC cleanliness guidelines.