Hints of normalcy return to Hermann

Some government offices and businesses in Hermann began a slow transition Monday to previous routines, in line with guidance from the state of Missouri and local authorities.


Hermann Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Melissa Lensing has been tracking the directives issued by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson that allowed businesses to begin reopening their doors to customers as of Monday. The state's order for the first phase of reopening will remain in effect through May 31, and with churches, salons, and gyms allowed to reopen as well.


"This is not a return to normal, but a new normal we open up to," Lensing told members. "Your business must allow for six feet of social distancing (or wear masks), and meet capacity requirements either per your occupancy code level" or rules for retail space, she added.


"Things to consider, no communal dining where different groups could be at same table or even large family groups greater than 10. Consider any space where different people could gather, kitchens or break rooms," she said.


Among other considerations for businesses, an infectious disease preparedness and response plan should be developed that includes policies and procedures for workforce contact tracing when an employee tests positive for COVID-19. Telework is encouraged when possible and feasible with business operations. Businesses should return to work in phases or in split shifts, if possible. Tables must be spaced at least six feet apart. The continued use of drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options is encouraged.


Lensing also said the Hermann License Bureau reopened Monday, with services available weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. for an interim period. Shields have been installed at windows, with chairs put in place and standing for customers marked at six-feet intervals.


"My advice is to don't overthink this," she added. "Use common sense. Put some trust in your customers and guests, that, for the most part, I believe they will drive proper behavior and determine where they will feel safe. Treat this as another risk to your business and put in place the mitigation plan, communicate it to your employees and to your customers/guests….Reopen your business when it is prepared with preventative measures, PPE (personal protective equipment), and any safety requirements for your customers are clearly posted in multiple places in your business. For those situations where six feet of distance cannot be obtained, then there must be further PPE involved -- screens, masks, gloves can be used."


As far as lodging, Lensing said those businesses should make sure their booking calendars reflect current availability. Those who are not accepting reservations at the moment should be certain their calendar reflects that, as visitors will begin to use www.visithermann.com to search for lodging availability.Any business that's uncertain about its readiness should contact the Gasconade County Health Department at (573) 486-3129.


The Hermann Welcome Center did not reopen on Monday, with officials saying they plan to monitor and follow the plans for reopening the DeutschheimWe will not be opening the Welcome Center on Monday. We will continue to monitor and following what Deutschheim visitor center as guidance for determining an opening date.


Lensing also told members she has begun a list of best practices that will allow for feedback from businesses and other chambers of commerce that businesses are doing for preventative measures. Among those additional recommendations are cleaning high-touch spots after customer use, placing spray bottles of disinfectant on tables or loungers, allowing 72 hours before re-booking a room, permitting self check-ins, leaving food deliveries at the door, and cleaning high-touch areas like light switches, lamp switches, hand rails, elevator buttons, vending machines, and door handles.


A spreadsheet on VisitHermann.com is kept up to date on restaurant and shop hours and any other changes to their operations.


Parson has issued further guidance on the state's preliminary reopening.


"This will be a deliberate process, and is flexible to adapt to the situation," he said. "Some communities may be able to reopen at a faster rate, while others may need to continue restrictions to keep the virus from spreading. During this time, we should limit our activity and interactions and continue to maintain social distancing and practice good hygiene to protect our neighbors and ourselves."


Hermann City Hall opened back to the public on Monday. City Clerk Patricia Heaney said a plexiglass window has been installed at the service counter, and customers waiting in line will be expected to maintain six feet between each another.  Customers can continue to mail payments or make use of the drop boxes.


"We hope to reopen meetings to public attendance; however, that may mean less chairs in the meeting rooms to maintain social distancing," Heaney said. "During the time that meetings have been closed to the public, we have invited them to call or email their comments during the meeting.  We may continue this option if we have to limit the number in attendance.  Instructions will always be on the posted meeting agenda."