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Norman amid coronavirus: Mayor announces plan to reopen Norman, hopes to fully lift restrictions August 1

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Breea Clark (copy)

Mayor of Norman Breea Clark introduces presidential candidate and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker at the Campus Corner Community Block Party Aug. 29, 2019.

Norman Mayor Breea Clark announced Tuesday the city’s Healthier at Home initiative to reopen Norman through a three-phase plan beginning May 1.

The initiative will reopen businesses and public facilities slowly and without overwhelming the city’s health care system and personal protective equipment supply, according to a press release. 

Although bars and schools will remain closed until further notice, Norman’s Phase 1A plan will reopen dining areas of restaurants -  by reservation only while following social distancing and sanitation guidelines - along with retail stores, which will be able to reopen at with capacity limited to 35 percent on May 1. Norman’s three-phase plan is currently targeted to continue until August 1, the goal date for all restrictions to be lifted.

The city’s initial stay-at-home order was enacted by Clark on March 24 to flatten the curve and ensure health care resources and systems were not overwhelmed, according to the initiative. The order was created “(not to) eliminate any and all risk to every Norman resident, but to minimize the risk to those most vulnerable in our community and preserve medical resources.”

According to the initiative, since the initial order, local health care resources are now operating with the capacity to handle case surges in Norman, and the delivery of PPE has caught up with the demand. The Oklahoma State Department of Health has also increased its contact tracing abilities to track down anyone who has come into contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. 

The three phases of the initiative will be executed in line with the criteria in Gov. Kevin Stitt’s “Open Up and Recover Safely” directive, according to the initiative. The city will continue to monitor its supply of PPE, hospital capacities, case surges and contract tracing capacity during the rollout of each phase.

“Over the past month we, along with many other communities around the nation and world, have taken extraordinary measures to counter an extraordinary situation,” Clark said in the release. “I have been proud to watch as Normanites come together to support their neighbors and accomplish our goal of flattening the curve in our city. Our data shows that our measures are working, we are experiencing a downward trend in the number of new cases and it is time to finish this marathon well and prepare for our future.”

The progression of each phase is based on gating criteria, which are defined as a set of conditions that have to be met before moving into each phase, according to the initiative. 

The conditions include a downward trajectory of the “three-day rolling average” of new cases in Norman, a contact tracing system that has been put in place by the state or county, hospital bed availability of at least 50 and sufficient test kits available to test individuals with symptoms or who have been in contact with people who have tested positive for the coronavirus. 

“Each phase is targeted to last 14 days in order to monitor these criteria as restrictions are slowly lifted,” the release read. “During part A and B of phase one, additional businesses and public facilities will open with restrictions such as strict social distancing requirements, reduced capacities and PPE requirements in place. In the next two phases, guidelines for individuals and businesses will continue to be updated and restrictions raised.”

In preparation for Phase 1A, employers must create and implement appropriate policies regarding social distancing and PPE, temperature checks of employees, sanitation, and workforce contact tracing, according to the initiative. Further, employers must monitor employees for symptoms and ensure symptomatic employees do not return to work.

Community members must continue to follow state, local and CDC guidelines, continue wearing face masks, wash hands often and avoid touching the face, disinfect frequently used items and surfaces, and contact a health care provider from home if sick, according to the initiative.

Phase 1A

During Phase 1A, beginning May 1 individuals must limit social gatherings to groups of 10 or less, continue to wear face masks, continue following Stitt’s safer-at-home guidelines if part of a vulnerable population, minimize non-essential travel and follow CDC and executive order travel guidelines, and maximize distance from others when in public, according to the initiative. 

General employers must follow sanitation protocols, implement plans for employees to return in phases, provide face masks and other protective gear for employees, continue remote work as much as possible, minimize non-essential travel and follow CDC and executive order travel guidelines, consider accommodations for employees who are part of vulnerable populations, and close common areas or enforce social distancing in them, according to the initiative. 

Specifically, schools and youth activities must remain closed until further notice, gyms can reopen if they follow social distancing and sanitation guidelines, bars must remain closed, dining areas of restaurants can reopen by reservation only while following social distancing and sanitation guidelines, visits to senior living facilities and hospitals remain prohibited, and pet grooming businesses can reopen by appointment only while following social distancing and sanitation guidelines, according to the initiative.

Further, retail stores can reopen while following guidelines and keeping the store’s capacity limited to 35 percent of its maximum capacity, dentists and eye doctors can stay open while wearing face masks and following sanitation guidelines, outdoor facilities can reopen but not organized youth sports programs, and various lessons operated on a one-on-one basis can begin while following social distancing and wearing masks, according to the initiative. 

For manufacturing, utilities and mining industries, employers must promote staggered shifts and flexible hours for employees, implement non-punitive sick leave, encourage disinfecting after work shifts, and allow supplies and transportation companies to make deliveries before or after normal business hours, according to the initiative.

For transportation, distribution and wholesale industries, employers must promote staggered shifts and flexible hours for employees, implement non-punitive sick leave, encourage disinfecting after work shifts, and encourage online interactions with customers, according to the initiative. 

For professional and administrative service industries, employers must allow employees to work remotely or provide flexible work locations and implement non-punitive sick leave for companies and industries unable to let employees work remotely, according to the initiative. 

Phase 1B

Once Phase 1A is complete and conditions are met, Phase 1B will begin on May 15, according to the initiative. During Phase 1B, individuals must continue following safer-at-home guidelines if part of a vulnerable population, continuing wearing face masks, maximize distance from others in public and avoid socializing in groups of over 10 people. 

General employers must continue encouraging working remotely as much as possible, close common areas or enforce social distancing in them, continue following sanitation protocols, provide face masks for employees, and consider accommodations for employees who are part of vulnerable populations, according to the initiative.

Bars must remain closed, organized youth sports that are closed can begin practicing again, playgrounds and basketball courts can reopen. Places of worship can reopen while following the Employer Guidance for Oklahoma’s Open Up and Recover Safely Plan. 

Personal care providers like hair and nail salons can reopen by appointment only as long as social distancing and sanitation guidelines are followed and masks are worn. Retail stores can reopen as long as the store is limited to 50 percent of its maximum capacity. 

Visits to senior living facilities and hospitals will remain prohibited, according to the initiative. 

Phase 2

Once the gating criteria for Phase 1B has been met, Phase 2 will begin on May 29, according to the initiative. During Phase 2, individuals must continue wearing face masks, maximize physical distance from others while in public and avoid socializing in groups of more than 25 people. 

General employers must continue following sanitation guidelines, continue encouraging remote work as much as possible, provide face masks for employees, consider accommodations for employees who are part of vulnerable populations, and close common areas or enforce social distancing in them, according to the initiative.

Entertainment venues, such as movie theaters and bowling alleys, can reopen as long as social distancing and protective measures are followed and the venue is limited to 50 percent of its maximum capacity. Bars can reopen as long as sanitation guidelines are followed, employees are given masks and standing room areas are limited by 50 percent. 

Summer camps can open as long as sanitation guidelines are followed and employees wear masks. Community pools can open as long as sanitation guidelines are followed and capacity is limited to 50 percent of the maximum capacity, according to the initiative.

Further, retail stores can open as long as protective measures are followed and the store’s capacity is limited to 75 percent of its maximum capacity, massage and tattoo parlors can reopen by appointment only while following protective and sanitation guidelines, and gyms that are unable to comply with social distancing under their normal operations can reopen as long as employees wear face masks and group size is limited, according to the initiative. 

Phase 3

Once the conditions for Phase 2 have been met, Phase 3 will begin on June 12, according to the initiative. During Phase 3, individuals in vulnerable populations can resume public interactions while continuing to practice social distancing, minimize going to social settings where distance is impractical, avoid socializing in groups of over 50 people, and consider wearing a face mask while in public.

General employers can resume unrestricted worksite staffing, continue following sanitation protocols, continue providing employees who work with the public masks, and close common areas or enforce social distancing in them, according to the initiative. 

Bars can open while following sanitation guidelines, standing room areas are limited by 35 percent and employees are given masks, organized youth sports can begin playing games as long as spectators continue following social distancing guidelines, retail stores can open at full capacity as long as protective measures are followed, entertainment venues can continue operating while following social distancing requirements, protective measures and venue capacity is limited to 75 percent of its maximum capacity, according to the initiative. 

Visits to senior living facilities and hospitals can resume, but those who interact with patients have to practice diligent hygiene and social distancing practices, according to the initiative. Dining areas of restaurants can open without reservations as long as employees wear masks and follow sanitation guidelines.

 

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