Businesses can reopen today with stipulations

Effective today, and through the end of the month, Missouri and Lake Ozark will begin a gradual reopening of their businesses and a more normal way of life.

A short-term relaxation of the guidelines as per the Miller County Health Center began at 12:01 a.m. Friday and ended this morning. Now, residents and visitors will be under a new state order that will allow a soft opening for businesses.

Highlights include:

• Every person and business in the state must abide by social distancing requirements, including maintaining six feet of space between individuals. This provision will not apply to family members or individuals performing job duties that require contact with other people closer than six feet. Individuals performing job duties that require contact with other people closer than six feet should take enhanced precautionary measures to reduce the risks of contracting or spreading COVID-19. This provision applies in all situations when customers are standing in line or individuals are using shared indoor or outdoor spaces.

• Restaurants may offer dining-in services provided that the limitations on social distancing and other precautionary public health measures, including proper spacing of at least six feet between tables, lack of communal seating areas to parties that are not connected, and having no more than 10 people at a single table, are properly adhered to. The continued use of drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options is encouraged throughout the duration of this order.

• Businesses that employ individuals in retail sales to the public must limit the number of individuals in any particular retail location as follows:

--Twenty-five percent or less of the entity’s authorized fire or building code occupancy for a retail location with square footage of less than 10,000 square feet;

--Ten percent or less of the entity’s authorized fire or building code occupancy for a retail location with square footage of 10,000 or more feet.

• Schools must remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic school year. At the discretion of the school district, nothing would prohibit school teachers, school staff, students and parents from re-entering school buildings in order to work, retrieve personal belongings, or return school property as long as limitations on social distancing are followed. Summer school may proceed under guidelines set forth by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The order does not prohibit daycares, childcare providers or schools from providing childcare in accordance with CDC guidelines. The order does not prohibit schools from providing food and nutritional services for children who qualify.

•People may not visit nursing homes, long-term care facilities, retirement homes, or assisted living homes unless to provide critical assistance or in end-of-life circumstances. Elderly or otherwise vulnerable populations should take enhanced precautionary measures to mitigate the risks of contracting COVID-19.

•Individuals may go to and from an individual’s place of worship, provided that limitations on social distancing are properly adhered to.

•State office buildings will be open to the public as soon as practical, and essential state functions will continue. The State Capitol Building will remain open to the public during meetings or proceedings of the General Assembly.

•The order will not be construed to prohibit or restrict the lawful possession, transfer, sale, transportation, storage, display or use of firearms or ammunition during the declared state of emergency.

•Nothing in the order prohibits the right of local authorities to impose ordinances, rules, regulations and orders that may be necessary for the particular locality under the jurisdiction of such local authorities. Local public health authorities are directed to carry out and enforce the provisions of this order by any legal means.

The order will remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. Sunday, May 31, unless extended by further order of the Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services. Anyone who feels that any of the soft opening rules are being violated is urged to contact the Miller County Health Center at 573-369-2359. Phone calls to the Lake Ozark Police Department will be referred to the Health Center.