With lifting of stay-home order, many offices and businesses begin a cautious reopening

Stockmens Bank reopened its lobby Monday after the month-long COVID-19 shutdown that caused banks and other offices and businesses to close their lobbies and work behind locked front doors. The bank’s new plexiglas “sneeze guards” that protect tellers, including Arlene Merriman, left, and Kaitlin Conrad, are hard to see in the photo, but they’re there.

The Gainesville post office lobby remained open during the pandemic shutdown, but a plexiglas shield was installed to protect retail employees, including Erica Clayton, shown here.

Gov. Mike Parson’s Stay Home, Missouri order was lifted Monday, allowing Missourians to venture out again after being directed since April 13 to stay at home unless they were employed in “essential” businesses or travel or dealing with emergencies. In response, many Ozark County offices and businesses that had operated behind locked front doors during the shutdown are again welcoming customers into their lobbies this week — while being mindful of social distancing and crowd sizes.

Stockmens Bank reopened its lobby to customers Monday, with tellers working behind plexiglas “sneeze guards” to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Century Bank of the Ozarks CEO Chris Harlin said the lobbies of all three Century Bank sites in the county would again be open to customers beginning Wednesday, and plexiglas teller shields are in the works. 

Retail clerks at the Gainesville post office are also working behind the protective shields, which were installed several weeks ago.

The Ozark County Courthouse reopened Monday, but some officeholders may choose to conduct business at tables set in front of their office doors. 

Gainesville hair salons reopened, with stylists – and some patrons – wearing protective face masks.

But while many businesses reopened, other facilities did not. The Ozark County Volunteer Library and the Ozark County Historium will remained closed awhile longer. Library board president Kathryn Atkinson said the board would be deciding soon if it might reopen at least a few days a week. The determining factor, she said, will be the highly valued volunteers who operate the library. “Many of us are in that vulnerable age group,” Atkinson said. “So we want to be especially careful to protect everyone’s health.”

Historium volunteer Janet Taber said she hopes that facility can reopen sometime after Memorial Day, but, like the library, the Historium’s schedule depends on the volunteers who work there, and their health and safety are the priority. Taber expressed disappointment that the Historium’s current two exhibits – a display of quilts created by Virginia McMurtrey and the long-anticipated “Struggle for Statehood” exhibit on loan from the Missouri Humanities Council in St. Louis – will have to be taken down and returned before the Historium reopens. 

The Center in Gainesville also remains closed despite the lifting of the stay-at-home order. An April 30 news release from the SeniorAge Area Agency on Aging in Springfield, which governs many of The Center’s services, said a reopening date for the senior centers in its jurisdiction has not been set.

“We aren’t certain when it will be deemed ‘safe’ for seniors to once again congregate and won’t have answers to that question until we follow the success or challenges of other places opening first,” SeniorAge marketing and development director Juli Jordan said in the news release. “We want to ensure that new outbreaks do not occur as people begin to once again gather and group.”

Meanwhile, the home-delivered meal program continues for those who previously qualified for the service. For other seniors who need meals, drive-thru pick-up service is offered. Those seniors needing these meals may call The Center (417-679-4746) ahead of time to order a frozen meal and then call again from the driveway when they arrive.  Other se rvices are also offered. See The Center’s community items on page 6 for details. 

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
PO Box 188
Gainesville, MO 65655

Phone: (417) 679-4641
Fax: (417) 679-3423