On Monday, May 11th, Governor John Bel Edwards announced that Louisiana will move into Phase 1 reopening on May 15th. Phase 1 is hoped to last 21 days until June 5th, when the state could move into Phase 2.

Vermilion Economic Development Alliance (VEDA) has provided an explanation of what we can expect. While some businesses will remain closed – massage establishments and spas, tattoo parlors, carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, trampoline parks, arcades, fairs, bars and breweries without LDH food permits, pool halls, contact sports, children’s play centers, playgrounds, theme parks, adult entertainment venues, and other similar businesses – many of our local establishments are getting the “all clear” to return to work.

All those businesses considered non-essential will be limited to 25% of their total occupancy (including employees) and those employees who deal with the public will be expected to wear face coverings or cloth masks and engage in robust sanitation procedures. Social distancing rules still apply for employees and patrons, so companies will need a plan to maintain those guidelines using signage, a designated staff member, or other creative solutions like guided pathways, designated waiting spaces, and other measures of their choosing.

So, what types of NEW business can we expect to see open? Gyms and fitness centers, barber shops and hair and nail salons, theaters, museums, and bars with LA Department of Health food permits for sure. But many entrepreneurs will continue to operate using their Stay-at-Home protocols for safety, cost, and other reasons.

“We need to be patient and mindful of the situation and lend our assistance however we can,” says VEDA Executive Director Anne Falgout. “Childcare is a big issue for many companies, as is fear, availability of workers, and financial strain. We are working with several local businesses that need resources and services. But we’d also like to see our residents communicating with their favorite shops and service providers. Even though the way they do business might look different, there are still lots of ways to support them.”

VEDA has provided some Phase I recommendations to help companies ease into the transition:

  • Remote work still encouraged if feasible
  • Can allow up to 25% of normal personnel back into offices
  • All offices should utilize temperature/symptoms screening template at their entrances
  • If there is a positive screen employee should be isolated and/or sent home
  • All personnel should maintain a distance of at least 6 ft or be separated by a barrier. If this is not possible, face coverings shall be worn
  • Enhanced cleaning should happen at least 3 times per day/night (beginning, middle & end of each shift). Frequently clean common touch points, such as tables, countertops, doorknobs/handles, handrails, light switches, desks, phones, keyboards, touch screens, toilets, faucets & sinks, etc. Local leadership should ensure this is outlined & completed
  • Reduce common touch points by opening internal doors where possible & removing lids on disposal receptacles, unless doing so creates an unsanitary environment
  • Common areas & break rooms should be restricted to allow at least 6 ft social distancing. A guide is one person for every 40 square ft. of available space. Remember to include furniture/appliances in calculations
  • Adjust lunch/break times to limit contact between employees
  • Seating should be arranged to allow proper distancing. Removal of some chairs may be required
  • Outdoor areas are preferred for lunch & other breaks if feasible
  • Use disposable cups, plates, & utensils
  • Disinfect high touch point areas frequently (coffee pot, refrigerator, microwave, faucets, etc.)
  • No more than 2 people allowed in elevators at one time
  • Avoid in person or face/face meetings when possible. Utilize video conferences as a substitute
  • Deliveries should be limited to one entrance at each building. Deliveries should be left in the entrance/lobby of the building and sanitized before moved
  • Visitors are not allowed. If contract services are needed, they should be screened
  • Business travel should be limited

“Unlike some of our neighboring communities, we have been able to keep local sales steady. We are so proud of our local establishments and residents for leading the way during this unprecedented time,” adds VEDA Executive Director Anne Falgout, “But we must remember, there is no time like the present to shop with our local businesses. Vermilion is doing well, but we can’t waver!”

For up-to-date information and resources, visit the VEDA COVID-19 page at www.developvermilion.org/help.