Today, new guidance was announced for a wider reopening of businesses and activity in Columbia and Boone County.
According to the Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services, there have been 108 positive COVID-19 cases in the area, with nine being active and one person hospitalized.
Stephanie Browning, the director of the health department, said that there were some new cases this week, but that is to be expected as testing increases. She added that the department will continue to closely monitor the situation.
“Right now, we are in a good place. We have what is needed in place to move forward,” Browning said. “As we continue to reopen, we do so with the knowledge that we're not out of the woods, and so, I'm going to continue to always ask you to care for yourselves and each other, and if we can do this, I think we can keep our communities moving forward.”
The new guidance will take effect at 12:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 26. Under this new guidance, all businesses in the area can reopen if they can do so safely and continue to follow the city’s guidance on gathering sizes, disinfection and social distancing.
Browning said that retail businesses will still have to adhere to Governor Mike’s Parsons more stringent restrictions for the time being, as they expire on May 31st.
This new guidance includes directives for businesses like bars, nightclubs, movie theaters and other large venues. Recreational areas, like playgrounds and pools, will also reopen, and contactless or limited contact sports can resume play. Contact sports, like football, can begin contactless practices.
All, of course, with the added caveat of social distancing regulations. Browning added that larger venues will also need to submit a plan for reopening.
Ashton Day, a health educator with Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services, who worked on the guidance, said a major focus is on bars and nightclubs.
“We have two pages worth of guidance in the bars,” Day said. “They must have an inspection before opening with our environmental health department since they have been closed for a while, and then they will work with our environmental health department, as well, to ensure that there is social distancing, and especially in those nightclubs, situations where there's dancing and live music.”
Most businesses and spectators for sporting events will be restricted to 50 people or 50 percent of occupancy, whichever is less, and personal care services, like salons, will be restricted to 25 people or 50 percent, whichever is less.
Day said there is also additional guidance for concession stands at sporting events and pools, which include the elimination of “self-serve” stations.
Browning added, “it's my hope that we as a community are able to continue our efforts to social distance and protect our most vulnerable. If we're successful in doing so, we can move swiftly into the next steps of our reopening process.”