New CDC precautions for the livestock area at the Ozark Empire Fair
One of the usual draws to the Ozark Empire Fair will be there when the gates open in a little more than three weeks. Organizers of the fair said they intend to follow safety recommendations from health officials to keep visitors safe.
While COVID-19 has not been found in horses, cows, pigs, chickens or ducks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently listed what large events need to do if animals are involved. Some of the suggestions include cleaning out the animal areas often, making sure they're well ventilated, and also reminding people not to mask any of the animals.
The General Manager of the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds said they already do all of these things out of precaution for other illnesses, like swine flu and e coli. Aaron Owen said most displays will be able to safely carry on, with the exception of the rabbit show. "There's been some stuff going on in rabbits, so we worked with the state vet and it's not in the state of Missouri, but with everything else going on, we went ahead and cancelled the rabbit show this year," said Owen.
The CDC stated a similar warning in their recent list of considerations. "Implement additional precautions to maintain at least 6 feet separation between any species shown to be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, including cats and other fields; dogs; small mammals such as mink, ferrets, and rabbits; and other animals shown to be susceptible to this virus."
Owen said they plan to post extra signage encouraging people to wash their hands around the livestock area of the fairgrounds. He said there will still be a petting zoo at the fair, with some extra cleanliness procedures in place.
Owen went on to review some of the other new precautions for the 2020 Ozark Empire Fair.
He said they will perform daily temperature checks on all fair employees. He said they will provide employees with masks, but it will be up to the individual if they want to wear the mask or not.
He also said people can expect to see more sanitizer stations, adding ride operators will be responsible for sanitizing between riders.
For concerts, Owen said tickets will be sold for every other row of the bleachers section. For other shows, Owen said they plan to use foldable chairs because they are easier to sanitize and they also allow people to social distance easily.
Owen said they're moving forward as scheduled with the fair set to start Thursday, July 30. He reminded people the plans and precautions are constantly evolving throughout the pandemic. KY3 News checked with Springfield City Officials via email about any decisions to cancel the fair, they did not respond.