Boone County health director recommends relaxing guidelines next week

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Boone County health director recommends relaxing guidelines next week

COLUMBIA —Just over a week before Columbia Public Schools ends classes for the summer, Columbia/Boone County Public Health director Stephanie Browning laid out a summer game plan to Columbia’s City Council. 

During the Monday night council meeting, Browning proposed several stages of reopening. 

Columbia’s current guidelines expire May 25, before the state’s guidelines end May 31. Any local guidelines are superseded through the end of May. Browning reported five new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Boone County since Saturday. There are currently seven people hospitalized in Boone County, two of whom are in intensive care units. 

From May 26 through June 22, Browning recommended that most establishments reopen at 50% occupancy while maintaining social distancing. 

That includes restaurants, churches, stores, gyms, conferences, bars, movie theaters and entertainment venues. 

Browning said that moving forward with reopening was contingent upon maintaining social distancing as much as possible, ensuring hospital capacity was not exceeded and monitoring for a significant spike in case numbers. 

After June 22, Browning proposed two months of social distancing for those businesses. 

Under the proposed new guidelines, personal care services like salons and barbershops could reopen May 26 with 25 or fewer people in a single location or a maximum of 50% occupancy, whichever is less, including both employees and customers. 

After that, she recommended a two month period of social distancing to the greatest extent possible, ending August 24. Browning stressed the importance of both employees and customers wearing masks because of the close nature of those services. 

Public gatherings, like concerts or street festivals would be capped at 50 people through June 22, 100 people through July 23 and 250 people through August 24. 

Pools would be able to open under the new order. Pools with a lifeguard can be open to as many people as can fit in the pool while still maintaining social distancing. Unattended pools would be capped at 25 swimmers. 

Sports would also be allowed to resume with restrictions.  From May 26 to June 22: Non-contact sports and activities are allowed with the spectator area limited to 50 % of occupancy limits of 50 people total, whichever is less. Non-contact practices of contact sports are allowed with limitations, of groups of up to 25.  Spectator limits are the same. 

June 23 to July 23: Non-contact sports are allowed following social distancing guidelines and the 100 person mass gathering limit. Contact practices are allowed, with the same spectator area rules. 

Playgrounds, parks and trails will remain open throughout the summer. 

Childcare and day camps will be allowed through June 22 with stable groups of 25 children and caregivers. From June 23 to August 24, recommendations will be determined based on industry input.

Long-term care facilities will be closed to visitors through August 24.

Browning is proposing these guidelines to the Boone County Commission later this week. 

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