Rolla businesses starting to reopen with new protocols

Lori Amos
Downtown Rolla on May 20 as businesses start the process of reopening.

“I know it's a challenging time, and everybody has to kind of think a little bit differently about business,” Executive Director of the Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce Stevie Kearse said.

As precautions are still in place for businesses in Rolla to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, area businesses have adjusted to a new norm of safety glass and wearing personal protective equipment, in some cases. Companies continue to adapt their services to meet the needs of community members as well as local, state and federal health agencies.

As businesses start to reopen bit by bit, Miller Glass of Rolla has been busy installing glass protection screens throughout the community, which residents will now see when they visit the Phelps County Courthouse or many local pharmacies.

Cathy John, with Miller Glass, spoke with the Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce, at the first virtual Friday coffee the chamber has held due to the coronavirus. John said Miller Glass was considered an essential business and has been busy throughout the stay-at-home order, and as the local economy slowly starts to reopen.

Through one of their suppliers, Miller Glass, at 412 S. Bishop Ave. has been able to offer the community glass protectors to put on counters. The glass protectors are crafted from tempered glass that can be cleaned and disinfected. The glass barrier is to better protect employees and customers from those who could be sick.

John said the courthouse has had the glass protectors installed, while many banks and pharmacies throughout the area are still having them installed.

John said Miller Glass has been installing the safety glass to help with the reopening of businesses in the area, and it is one of their new products. The company is also now carrying sneeze guards that are available for purchase.

“We are very blessed to be able to serve our community,” John said.

Rolla Family Dentistry has been open for some time now, as well, yet people are still uneasy when it comes to visiting the dentist, Rebekah Kiersz said.

“People have been appreciative and have felt safe and protected, yet some patients are still apprehensive about coming in whether it’s just with dental visits or with doctor’s appointments,” she said.

Dentist Dr. Jeremy Kiersz and the staff at Rolla Family Dentistry have had to make changes to daily operations in response to the coronavirus, such as infection control procedures and wearing Personal Protective Equipment.

Rolla Family Dentistry’s infection control procedures follow the infection control recommendations made by the American Dental Association, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Rolla Family Dentistry is following the activities of these agencies to stay up-to-date on any new rulings or guidance that may be issued in response to the virus. And to make sure infection control procedures are current and adhere to each agencies’ recommendations, according to Jeremy.

Rolla Family Dentistry will now screen patients before they visit the office and screen patients while they are in the office. Patients will be asked to come to their appointments by themselves unless someone needs assistance, or someone is accompanying a minor. However, in most cases, they will be asked to wait in their car.

Staff now take a patient’s temperature before they are taken back to the treatment area, where patients will be asked to wash their hands before they are seated. Hand sanitizer is readily available in the reception area as well as other places in the office.

Appointments are now managed to allow for social distancing between patients, which means there may be fewer options for scheduling appointments; however, appointments have opened up, according to Rebekah.

“You want everybody to feel safe, and we're doing the best that we can to make everybody feel safe when they come into our office. Everybody's layered with extra Personal Protective Equipment now; the masks, the face shields, the goggles and everything,” Rebekah said.

Appointments for regular cleanings and checkups have opened up during the month, which is usually not the case for the dentistry, at 1701 E. 10th St. Instead, it is something that has happened in light of the coronavirus, according to Rebekah.

“We're just happy to be a part of the Rolla community and seeing everybody that's out there supporting the community. We've tried to do that with everybody and, you know, we're ready for our new normal,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce staff will be back in the office on May 26, but the lobby will stay closed for now, Kearse said.

“We are all going through these changes together and just be patient with the businesses. They are doing the best that they can. We are all doing the best that we can,” Kearse said.

What Rolla Businesses Can Expect with the Return to Work Ordinance

Rolla businesses must now adhere to guidelines in accordance with the Return to Work Ordinance passed by the Rolla City Council. The city of Rolla has designated inspectors charged with regular daily monitoring of businesses and organizations for compliance with the newly adopted ordinance that took effect May 5.

The following is the COVID-19 Business Checklist, inspectors are using for the coronavirus guideline inspections. Anyone with questions should contact the Phelps County Health Department or Rolla City Administration.

Businesses must follow guidelines set forth in city of Rolla Ordinance No. 4547, and are subject to the following restrictions:

Provide hand-sanitizing stations at entrances and high volume places.

Cleaning/Disinfecting schedule or plan of all areas and frequently used electronic equipment.

Screening staff of symptoms and temperature readings.

Develop and implement Infectious Disease Preparation and Response Plan.

Restaurants, Bars, and Retail Food Establishments

Businesses are encouraged to provide pickup, drive-through or delivery services.

• Employees who take food orders/serve prepared foods are required to wear a protective mask

• Seating should be limited to no more than eight individuals of the same household.

• Tables and seating must be arranged to visibly identify at least six feet of separation between any other tables and seating as if occupied.

• Bars and restaurants with bar facilities shall remove bar stools and bar seating to prevent patrons from gathering and congregating at the bar.

• Self-serve dining is allowable, if the food is distributed from a dedicated server.

• No table settings allowed. Disposable menus only and cleaning/sanitizing table between customers.

Personal Service Businesses (tattoo parlors, massage therapy, barbershops, hairdressers, nail salons)

Businesses are to encourage patrons to wear a protective cloth mask per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

• Employees are required to wear a protective mask when interacting with any customer.

• Businesses shall operate with scheduled appointments only.

• Lobbies or waiting rooms shall be limited to no more than three people with six feet of seperation.

• Facilities, therapeutic chairs or beds, and other shared equipment shall be thoroughly sanitized between patrons.

Retail, Commercial and Manufacturing Businesses

•Employees are not required to wear masks if they can maintain at least six feet of separation from customers and co-workers. If employees cannot maintain six feet of separation, masks or sneeze guard shields are required.

• Businesses must provide hand-sanitizing stations for employees and customers.

• Businesses must maintain “Occupancy Limit” at all times. Customer occupancy numbers will be determined by the Rolla Fire Department using the State’s guidelines, generally 10% of the determined occupancy for businesses over 10,000 square feet, and generally 25% of the determined occupancy for businesses under 10,000 square feet.

The regulations contained in the order are currently in effect through May 31.