Most businesses – but not all – look forward to reopening Monday at end of shutdown order
At press time Tuesday, Ozark County still had no reported positive cases of the COVID-19 virus, and residents here are hopeful that the May 4 “reopening” at the end of Gov. Mike Parson’s “Stay Home, Missouri” order will let life move closer to normal after the state’s April 5 pandemic shutdown closed schools and many businesses and prohibited gatherings of more than 10 people.
Many business offices, including the Ozark County Times, will reopen their lobbies again Monday after a month of working behind locked front doors. And many business employees, as well as patrons, will be wearing face coverings, which the Centers for Disease Control recommend as a way to help stop the spread of the virulent virus. (See cdc.gov for guidelines.)
At least one local business has closed permanently after the month-long shutdown. When restaurants in the state were directed to go to take-out and delivery service only by the governor’s Stay Home, Missouri order, Deb and Lou Garcia closed their popular Deb & Lou’s restaurant on the Gainesville square. The “Show Me Strong Recovery” order issued Monday by Parson, linked to guidelines announced by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, allows restaurants to offer dining-in services again as long as social distancing of 6 feet is maintained between tables, and no more than 10 people are seated at a single table. Drive-thru, pickup or delivery options are encouraged.
Despite the end of the shutdown, however, Deb Garcia announced in a Facebook post Monday night that she and her husband had decided not to reopen Deb & Lou’s and instead would remain closed permanently.
They “took a huge hit to our business … because of Covid 19,” she wrote. “It has drained us financially.” As a result, they had “made the hardest decision” with “a heavy heart and tears in our eyes,” she said.
Deb expressed thanks to “everyone and all of the workers we have had through the years for making us who we are.”
While Deb & Lou’s devoted patrons are saddened by the cafe’s closure, many area residents are eagerly awaiting the reopening of the town’s three hair salons. Southern Roots owner Kristie Ashmead, The Hair Shop and Tanning owner Mischa Fero and Molly’s Salon and Boutique owner Molly Collins all told the Times they were looking forward to reopening their shops next week. All three owners said they will be taking precautions to protect themselves and their customers, including wearing masks and, in some cases gloves, and limiting the number of people in the salon at any one time.
One way of maintaining distancing is for clients to call from outside the shop when they arrive for appointments. “We would like to ask, if they get to their appointment early, to please wait in your vehicle until the time or we wave ya in,” said Fero, who also said she plans to close The Hair Shop “every three hours … to deep disinfect.”
In her ad in this week’s Times, Ashmead tells her Southern Roots salon’s customers, “We can’t wait to see you! … We have missed each of you terribly.”
Ozark County Courthouse
At this week’s meeting of the Ozark County Commissioners, Presiding Commissioner John Turner said the courthouse doors, which have been locked during the shutdown, will be opened, “but we’ll let each office decide what they want to do—put a table across the door to meet people there or whatever they decide.”
The commissioners’ April 27 meeting was again live-streamed via the Ozark County Facebook page. To watch the trcorded meeting, visit facebook.com/OzarkCounty.
After telling the commissioners the county still has had no reported positive COVID-19 cases, Ozark County Health Department administrator Rhonda Suter added that, although the shutdown order was being lifted and reopening is beginning in phases, “people still need to use common sense. It’s still recommended to avoid large groups. But we’re getting there. I think we’re heading in a good way.”
She repeated the warnings to “wash your hands and stay home if you’re sick.”
At press time Tuesday, the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services website (health.mo.gov) reported that Missouri has had 7,171 cases of COVID-19 with 288 deaths. By Tuesday morning, these numbers had been reported for counties adjoining Ozark County: Douglas County, no positive cases; Howell County, five positive cases, no deaths (unchanged from last week); Taney County, 10 positive cases, one death (one more positive case than last week); Baxter County, Arkansas, five positive cases, no deaths (unchanged from last week). Nationwide (including the District of Columbia, Guam, Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands), 957,875 cases and 53,922 deaths had been reported, as of Monday.