Employees were prepping burrito ingredients again at the Chipotle in Billerica on Thursday as the Mexican chain readied to reopen its doors.
It’s a typical weekday routine, but one put on hold for two days this week after employees in the restaurant reported they’d come down with a case of norovirus, the contagious ailment that sickened more than 100 at the Chipotle in Cleveland Circle last year.
The chain has been especially cautious about foodborne illness wrought by the bad press in Boston, which also came after an unrelated outbreak of E. Coli in more than a dozen states.
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Media were again pointing cameras at the restaurant Thursday as the pre-lunch prep work stretched past the restaurant’s 11 a.m. opening, as reported by The Lowell Sun’s Rick Sobey, who tweeted just after 11:15: “When will #BurritoWatch finally come to an end?”
Chipotle was handing out free burrito coupons to customers who came by Thursday morning due to the delayed opening: 12:30 p.m., Sobey also tweeted.
The restaurant planned to reopen after the all-clear from health inspectors on Wednesday, a spokesman said in a statement, adding that it also passed a health inspection with a score of 100 percent on March 3, before the norovirus incident put the location in the spotlight.
“The health department was impressed by Chipotle: our paid sick leave policy, our procedures for excellent sanitation, and our proactive approach to making certain that no one worked while sick. We look forward to opening,” read the statement, emailed to Metro by company spokesman Chris Arnold.
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Chipotle told media this week the temporary closure would come with an intense cleaning of the restaurant — it also said none of the four ill employees reported for work and that no customers reported being made sick by the fast-food fare.
Another Billerica building was also dealing with a norovirus scare this week: Billerica High. After one student reported being sick, a cleaning regimen followed. The school stayed open, and attendance was at normal levels, according to the Sun.