The Waynesville-St. Robert Chamber of Commerce partnered with the Pulaski County Health Center and Home Health Agency, Pulaski County, the Sustainable Ozarks Partnership and the cities of St. Robert and Waynesville to install a new initiative aimed at protecting consumers and employees while businesses attempt to safely reopen.

FORT LEONARD WOOD — The Waynesville-St. Robert Chamber of Commerce partnered with the Pulaski County Health Center and Home Health Agency, Pulaski County, the Sustainable Ozarks Partnership and the cities of St. Robert and Waynesville to install a new initiative aimed at protecting consumers and employees while businesses attempt to safely reopen.

The Safe and Smart Pledge is a voluntary gesture, according to the chamber’s executive director, Cecilia Murray, but participation is highly encouraged for all businesses in the county.

“We want people to feel comfortable to start coming out to eat, to shop and to do business within the local community,” she said. “We’re asking all businesses and organizations within Pulaski County – not just Chamber members – to complete the survey that we have online.”

The survey, which can be found at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeJQ5ksHjjsYSZASgI9MpqouECb3CLstfjzVxhT6ZwUF4NSlQ/viewform, asks business owners in checklist format to report what actions they have taken to protect employee health, prevent crowds, increase sanitation and ensure social distancing.

“As soon as they complete that, letting us know what their standards are, then they will receive their pledge flier to put on their door,” Murray said.

She said the fliers are meant to build trust between consumers and the community’s businesses.

The survey suggests business owners take measures like conducting symptom checks on employees and preventing customers from self-serving items.

Pulaski County Health Center and Home Health Agency Health Director Deborah Baker said the health department assisted in drafting the online form’s questions.

“We offered some insight as far as what businesses can do to operate and stay within the current guidance that coincides with the state’s order and also (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommendations,” she said. “The information gathered is confidential and is for our internal use only to gauge what local businesses may be doing.”

Baker said because the program is voluntary, participants will not receive grades like they would from a health inspection.

“No regulatory action such as an inspection will be taken,” she said. “It’s an honor system and will remain as such. Everyone posts the same sign to display in their business.”

Murray said it is crucial that all county residents do what they can to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We want to keep it where we’re all protecting each other and keeping six feet apart, wearing masks when you can,” she said. “So, it’s just important that everyone do their part, whether it be the employee, the customer or the employer.”

Baker echoed Murray’s sentiments of social solidarity and expressed support for the Fort Leonard Wood area.

“Taking this pledge additionally portrays that our community supports not only our local residents but also our military personnel who visit our off-post businesses and establishments,” she said.