Many businesses still open
Some confusion about COVID-19 recommendations
City of Lake Ozark officials are urging bars, restaurants and other businesses to follow CDC and area health department recommendations limiting the number of patrons in the on-going effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.
There were allegations that a handful of businesses on The Strip were open Wednesday afternoon and evening with well more than the 10-person maximum limit of individuals and violating the six-foot social distancing recommendation. City officials said the warm weather – and several days of residents being cooped up – brought people out.
While no official lockdown or stay-at-home order has been issued by the Miller County Health Center, nearly every restaurant and bar in the City of Lake Ozark – and lake area – has voluntarily closed their businesses to the public, instead offering curbside or pickup service.
“We can’t stress enough the importance of keeping our public safe and we appreciate businesses voluntarily closing to the public,” City Administrator Dave Van Dee said. “Even though there is no official order to close we hope businesses use common sense as we move forward in containing the coronavirus. We encourage curbside and pickup service rather than gatherings on decks or inside buildings.”
Much of the confusion among business owners is the vague wording of most state and local health department directives. Orders use such terms as “shall avoid” and “recommendation” leave the social distancing and gathering rules open to interpretation.
“Businesses have the right to continue to do business,” Van Dee said. “But we encourage businesses to use good judgment in offering their services. Many have been able to ‘think outside the box’ and provide their products in unique ways and still adhere to the health department recommendations. But, again, we strongly discourage gatherings of 10 people or more in one location. Businesses and patrons need to self-regulate.”
County and state health recommendations have been posted online at cityoflakeozark.net. They also have been shared by area media and have been promoted by the national media.
Some states and counties have issued their own orders limiting the number of customers to no more than 10, and imposing the six-foot social distancing rule. Camden County Health Department and the Camden County Commissioners have ordered that the recommendations be followed by threat of civil law.
Miller County Public Center Administrator Matt Herbert encouraged residents and visitors to visit and “Like” the agency’s Facebook page. Here is the latest information, which reflects much of what has been reported:
Effective March 23, the State of Missouri issued a Social Distancing order. It ordered all Missouri citizens to avoid eating and drinking at restaurants and bars. Restaurants and bars may be open (and are encouraged) to fulfill orders to go. If they are open, they must be able to meet the space requirements for social distancing. They may have up to 10 people (staff and patrons) in a single space as long as they maintain a distance of six feet apart and follow all disinfecting recommendations.
The order and FAQs are found at: https://health.mo.gov/living/healthcondiseases/communicable/novel-coronavirus/social-distancing.php
The Miller County Health Center may impose more stringent orders when and if there is a community spread of COVID-19.
Information to know
•The city of Lake Ozark has not imposed any ordinance relating to private establishments nor ordered any private establishment to close due to the virus.
•The city supports the directives of county and state health officials and recommends that residents and business owners adhere to them. Links are: Miller County, www.millercountyhealth.com, and Camden County, www.camdencountyhealth.org.
•The Lake Ozark Police Department and Lake Ozark City Hall are not the primary enforcement agencies in such matters. Anyone with complaints should call their local health department offices: Miller County Health Department at 573-369-2359; or the Camden County Health Department at 573-346-5479, Ext. 204.
•Anyone ordering from curbside or carryout restaurant is asked to remain in their vehicle until a business employee brings the item(s) to their car.
•The lake area is seeing more out-of-the-area residents coming to the lake to enjoy their second homes. While they are welcome, those visitors need to make sure they understand the recommendations as they apply locally since their home-based rules might be different. Again, checking cityoflakeozark.net, and the Miller County and Camden County Health Department websites will provide accurate and up-to-date information.
•The Lake of the Ozarks offers unsurpassed beauty and outdoor opportunities. Residents and visitors are encouraged to walk their neighborhoods, hike the city and state parks and generally enjoy the outdoors.
“These are challenging times, and we’re all having to do things a little differently,” Van Dee said. “Ultimately, it’s about our public health. We need to do what we can to self-regulate.”
The city will provide more information as it is made available.