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City proposes policy for economic reopening

Governor extends Louisiana stay-at-home order until May 15
Tuesday, April 28, 2020
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Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker is already planning for the city’s eventual economic reopening, despite Monday’s gubernatorial extension of the current coronavirus stay-at-home order until May 15.

Under a draft Ruston Strong Safe Shop policy, employees of local retail businesses and restaurants will have to wear masks and have their temperature checked every day once commerce resumes.

The draft policy also includes limiting the number of customers and diners based on a square footage formula.

Restaurants must allow 30 square feet per patron, while retail businesses must allow 120 square feet per person.

The number excludes employees.

The square footage upon which occupancy would be based for restaurants is dining area only, Walker said. However, for retail, the square footage includes the entire building.

The mayor shared his proposal with local businesspeople via conference calls on Friday and Monday.

“We want to go ahead and set up the guidelines here in Ruston so that you can go ahead in getting some of the supplies you’ll need to reopen,” he told restaurant owners Monday.

-Any store or restaurant that doesn’t have the mechanisms in place to monitor employee temperatures, preferably with an infrared thermometer; count customers; and determine the 6-foot social distance between shoppers should remain closed until all of those things are in place, Walker said.

He said the city is “trying every way we can” to make it easier for commerce to resume, including making available a limited supply of masks and trying to get large drums of hand sanitizer so merchants can fill containers as a jumpstart on reopening, whenever that happens.

As to masks, the policy says homemade masks are acceptable as long as they cover an employee’s nose and mouth.

The daily temperature checks are required to be taken by a designated person. Employees are not allowed to work if they have a temperature above normal or have COVID-19 symptoms as defined by the Centers for Disease Control. Employers must keep a daily temperature log.

Neither restaurants nor businesses will be allowed to let groups congregate or loiter in or near the establishment.

Both must maintain 6 feet of separation between customers in all directions at cash registers and counters.

The proposed policy also recommends employees wash their hands every 15 minutes throughout the day, or for restaurant workers, between serving customers.

Hand sanitizer should be available to employees and customers.

The same masking and spacing rules apply to outdoor seating areas, the mayor said. Once a restaurant reaches occupancy, patrons may wait on the sidewalk for a seat, but still must remain 6 feet apart.

The policy doesn’t require customers to wear masks, but encourages that they do so.

On Monday, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced he’s extending the statewide stay-at-home order until May 15 with three changes:

• Malls will remain closed to the public, but stores may open for curbside delivery.

• Restaurants will be allowed to open their outside area for patrons to eat meals only, without tableside service.

• All employees of any business who have contact with the public must wear a mask.