To follow up on comments posted on social media from CWE residents concerned about groups of people gathering around business establishments in the neighborhood, I thought readers would be interested in seeing how 28th Ward Alderwoman Heather Navarro has addressed that concern in a memorandum circulated to business owners in the CWE North CID today:
Dear CWE Business owners,
Thank you for everything you are doing to keep our neighborhood going despite this current pandemic and the necessary stay-at-home order. I appreciate how hard everyone is working to keep people employed and businesses open and I know many of you have had to make a lot of tough choices over the last month.
This past Sunday we saw the most new cases in one day since our first confirmed case on March 16. I know that Governor Parson’s lifting of the statewide order has added confusion and inconsistencies to our response to this virus and I want to help clarify what is allowed and not allowed under the current order.
First, the order of April 16, order #7, which replaced and updated the original stay-home order from March, is still in effect and will remain in effect until at least mid-May. The decision to lift any restrictions will depend on how well people are following the current order. Unfortunately, this weekend we saw a lot of people violating the order by congregating around restaurants and establishments in the CWE. I have been hearing from neighbors over the last week and witnessed many of the violations first-hand this weekend. The mayor will consider lifting restrictions on the current order in mid-May and it will be based on how well we have flattened the curve by successfully social distancing. If we want to open up sooner rather than later it’s important that we all take the heath director’s orders seriously. Here are a few main points to keep in mind:
1. Restaurants can serve food only through pick-up/curbside/carry-out/take-out/delivery for food and drink. I know we have a lot of people who walk instead of drive to pick up food and we don’t have lots of parking lots for people to pull in and wait for deliveries. However, we CANNOT have groups of 10 or more people congregating outside a restaurant and those people have to be 6 ft apart. People have to grab their food and go. I saw many examples this weekend of people not standing far enough apart and in groups larger than 10.
2. Customers should not be sitting down at tables and chairs on the sidewalk. The order allows them to take food to go. By providing outdoor seating you are encouraging people to gather and linger. If people are found to be eating at your establishment – indoors or outdoors – and not taking it to go you could be cited by the health department.
- If people are piling up outside your business waiting for orders then you need to find another way to coordinate orders. If marks on the sidewalk are not keeping people at a distance then consider limiting orders to a certain number an hour or arranging for more precise pick-up times. Consider requiring people to order online so they are not waiting around. People should NOT be ordering drinks and hanging out on the sidewalk while they wait for food, unless they can do it at a safe distance, which is very difficult given the density of our neighborhood. The purpose of this order is to allow people to pick up food and go. If that’s not happening then changes need to be made to the process.
- Even if people are gathering on the sidewalk and not your private property the health department could still cite you because they are your customers, waiting on your food, and drinking your drinks. Please encourage people to take their food and go, to line up appropriately, wait in their cars, etc. If you need help with signage please let me know.
- Parking continues to be free so if you want to use a few spots as pick up so people can call and have their orders brought to their cars we can make that work. Think of it like the cell phone lot at the airport. You could text people when their order is ready and they walk up. The only people standing around the door should be people who are in the process of getting their food and then they should move on.
As an overview, the order requires people to stay at home with limited exceptions. Enjoying the outdoors is important and it’s allowed for exercise and walking pets. When people must gather they’re limited to 10. Unfortunately, some people take this to mean they can have social gatherings up to 10 wherever they want and they are not taking precautions. Anything you can do to help stop the spread of this virus will keep people safe and allow for the reopenings of businesses sooner.
* Just a reminder that if you’re preparing or serving food you must wear gloves. Anyone working outside the home, shopping, or picking up food orders should be wearing a mask – this includes employees and customers. If you need help getting masks or gloves please let me know.
Please let me know how I can support you to make dining and shopping in the CWE a healthy experience for everyone. If you have questions feel free to reach me at my cell, 632.6458 or by email.
Heather B. Navarro
Alderwoman, 28th Ward