Chipotle closes Virginia store after reports of illness


NEW YORK (AP) — Chipotle temporarily closed a restaurant in a Washington, D.C., suburb after reports that customers had become ill, news that sent its shares down more than 6 percent as the chain had already been working on recovering from past food scares.

The company says it shut down a location in Sterling, Virginia, on Monday after becoming aware of a "small number" of reported illnesses. It plans to reopen the restaurant today after a "complete sanitization."

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. says it is working with health authorities to understand the cause, but the reported symptoms are consistent with norovirus. That can cause nausea, stomach pain and diarrhea. The company notes that norovirus does not come from its food supply and it is safe to eat at its restaurants.

Its shares nonetheless fell 6.4 percent today to $366.86, after Business Insider reported the closure. Given its history, Chipotle has said in the past any food-safety incidents could have an outsized negative impact on its sales, even if the incidents might be considered minor elsewhere.

Chipotle has been working to bounce back from the food scares that included an E. coli outbreak in fall 2015 and a norovirus case in Boston later that year. It's made tweaks to cooking methods and added training for employees, among other stepped-up safety measures.

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