Greene County to ease occupancy restrictions

Published: Jun. 2, 2020 at 9:36 PM CDT
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Current restrictions on occupancies in Greene County expired Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. allowing more people to gather at places like barber shops, retail stores and restaurants.

Greene County Commissioners decided to let the current phase of their recovery plan expire before expanding occupancy limits from 25 percent to 50 percent. This does not impact the city of Springfield city limits. The city of Springfield has its own occupancy restrictions.

They wanted to get as much information about the spread of COVID-19 out in the county before easing restrictions.

"It was very sad because I thought it was the end," said Sherry Bauer

When she took over her sister's cafe in January, she was off to a great start. Then the coronavirus made it's way to Greene County.

"Before the pandemic you couldn't find a seat in my dining room," she said.

She had to make some changes based on restrictions set forth by the county commission in compliance with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department's guidelines.

"If I have somebody come and sit in that booth right there I'll put a closed sign right here on this one. If somebody sits there I'll put a closed sign on the other one. I took two of my tables outside so that I could have more pad for 25 percent," she explained.

"People have to understand we have to be light on our feet here and respond appropriately. That's what we're trying to do here," said Greene County Commissioner Harold Bengsch.

He said that the decision to enter the next phase of the county's recovery plan was made carefully.

"We could start putting together what we felt was appropriate based on the information that we now had from the health department," he explained.

Retail stores, personal services, bars and cafe's like Bauer's will now be able to increase their occupancy rate to 50 percent of their normal capacity.

However, Bengsch said that could change if the community's health declines.

"We're very concerned. We're watching closely. We don't know what the affect of what's going on nationwide is going to do," he said.

For Bauer and her community the increase is one step closer to life as it was before the pandemic.

"It's really just a family oriented cafe. I treat my customers the same way. I can't wait to get my arms around them," she said.

Greene County Commissioners will be checking in with the health department on a weekly basis to monitor the virus and adjust restrictions if necessary.

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