EOC taking mitigation plans from businesses planning to reopen

This week brought some confusion to the process of reopening businesses in Alaska. On Wednesday, a new state health mandate preempted local authority over how the reopening process would happen, but less than 24 hours later, the state returned control to local decision-makers.

As of Friday, the state authorized restaurants, retail stores and other service businesses to reopen with some limitations. Kodiak city manager Mike Tvenge said they’re still asking local businesses covered under Health Mandate 16 to contact the Emergency Operations Center with their safety plans for reopening.

“Businesses are open, but we’re still encouraging businesses to reach out to the Emergency Operation Center, receive the [safety plan] template and file that with the Emergency Operation Center safety chief,” said Tvenge. “Those businesses will have a storefront logo put up that shows that they’ve submitted and received a mitigation plan. So it’s just an assurance to the customers that these businesses are ready for business.”

The requirements for reopening are complicated, said Chamber of Commerce executive director Sarah Phillips. In addition to deciding whether reopening at a reduced capacity is profitable, businesses will have to evaluate whether they are ready to comply with requirements like providing hand sanitizer and requiring all customers to wear a mask while inside stores.

“There’s so much more to it that our businesses really need to be aware of, the very specific attachments and the requirements within those attachments that impact their business,” she said. “So if they aren’t able to comply with the requirements and those attachments, they’re not ready to open.”

And she notes, the requirements apply for all businesses, not just ones that fall within city limits.

There are other components to reopening guidelines, like training employees and understanding what to do if an employee gets sick, said Discover Kodiak executive director Aimee Williams.

“There’s also a training component for employees to make sure that your employees understand the protocols they’re supposed to follow and what to do if one of those people were to become sick,” she said, adding that one of those is a “protocol where you could close your business for 72 hours instead of doing the full CDC deep clean.”

It’s still possible that Kodiak will have to slow down and close up shop again, if COVID-19 cases begin to increase in numberon the island. Tvenge says they’ll follow the advice of local medical professionals to decide if and when to pull back on reopening Kodiak’s economy.

In the meantime, businesses can reach out to the EOC with safety plans by calling (907) 486-8970, or emailing safety@city.kodiak.ak.us. The Chamber of Commerce is also providing business reopening guidance; their phone number is (907) 486-5557.

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