Businesses that closed per government orders are starting to open their doors once again, but that doesn’t mean everything in the sector will return to normal just yet.
Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order April 24, stating certain employees may return to work places deemed non-essential. But in order to do so, businesses need to have a plan in place that ensures the safety of employees and clients.
Although Walz’ executive order focuses on non-essential businesses in particular, the city of Lonsdale laid forth a COVID-19 preparedness plan of its own. Apart from the Lonsdale Library, all city departments are considered essential and have been conducting business as usual with precautionary measures already in place.
The plan the city developed is based on the example the state of Minnesota and the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities has provided. During Thursday’s City Council meeting, City Administrator Joel Erickson described the contents of the plan.
The city continues to encourage employees to stay at home if they feel sick and notify their supervisor at once. The expectation is especially true for those who experience symptoms of COVID-19 and test positive for the virus. Workers with coronavirus symptoms who haven’t been tested must return to work after 72 hours without a fever and at least seven days after the last symptoms subside.
Those who do test positive for the virus must receive two negative tests, taken 24 hours apart, and have no fever before returning to work. Anyone who tests positive but experiences no symptoms are expected to stay in isolation at least three days and return to work seven days after the first positive test, as long as there are no subsequent illnesses or new symptoms to report. In any case, impacted individuals are instructed to follow the guidance of their healthcare providers.
Those who come in contact with the virus (in example, if a worker lives with someone who has tested positive) must notify their supervisor, leave work promptly, self-isolate for 14 days following the exposure, avoid people at high risk and self-monitor symptoms.
Workers who travel to or from another country are also expected to quarantine 14 days after returning and practice social distancing.
The city has already implemented procedures for reducing the spread of COVID-19. That includes following basic hygiene protocols like hand washing and cleaning keyboards, phones, and other frequently touched items. Workers will continue standing/sitting six feet apart at least and use personal protective equipment (PPE) as necessary.
Councilor Steve Cherney asked during the meeting if the City Hall will be required to have shielding up at the front desk, if masks will be available for those who enter the facility and whether or not floor markings will indicate how far apart individuals can stand.
Erickson said staff purchased shields for the front desk and intends to make markings on the ground, but he doesn’t anticipate City Hall providing masks for people to wear. Visitors can, of course, wear masks if they choose and are encouraged to do so.
As far as elections go, Erickson said he strongly encourages residents to vote absentee rather than going to the polling place, because the lines will be longer than usual due to social distancing measures. Residents may start requesting absentee ballots now, by going online to mnvotes.sos.state.mn.us/VoterStatus.aspx.