Gary J. Groman, a.k.a. The Ole Seagull
On June 11, 2020, Missouri’s Governor Michael L. Parson issued Executive Order 20-12 initiating Phase 2 of Missouri’s COVID-19 Recovery Plan. Among other things, the order says, “Beginning Tuesday, June 16, we will move into Phase 2 of our recovery plan. In Phase 2, there will be NO statewide public health order – Missouri will be fully open for business.”
During a special meeting on May 4, 2020, the Branson Board made an election to use the statewide order of Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services, dated April 27, implementing Phase 1 of Missouri’s “Show Me Strong Recovery Plan,” instead of adopting specific COVID-19 ordinances for the city.
On June 15, the city of Branson was asked if it had any plans to initiate any COVID-19 ordinances to fill the void left by the fact that there is no statewide public health order as of tomorrow? Melody Pettit, Communications Manager for the City of Branson, said, “Right now there are no plans in place to do this.”
She went on to say that the health and safety of Branson residents, businesses, and visitors remains a top priority; that the city is continuing to work in coordination with partner agencies to monitor this evolving situation to ensure our response actions are based on the latest facts; and to urge residents, businesses, shows, restaurants, and attractions to continue to follow all federal, (CDC) state (DHSS), and local (TCHD) COVID-19 health guidelines that remain in effect.
During the May 4 meeting, Jeff Seifried, President/Chief Executive Officer, Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and CVB said, “Our businesses provided for the safety of their guests and employees as we were lead into this situation. They will do the same as they lead us out of it.” On June 15, he said that as of the 16th, “the economy of Branson is free of any government COVID-19 regulations about the pandemic.”
He was quick to point out; however, that doesn’t mean that the safety in Branson’s theatres, attractions, businesses, and restaurants will be compromised. He said, “Branson businesses, using the peer to peer recommendations of the Chamber’s Task Force and information from the Taney County Health Department have plans and procedures in place to continue providing for the safety of their employees and Branson visitors.
The actions taken by The Duttons, at the Dutton Family Theatre, during Phase 1 of the Recovery Plan are an example of the efforts Branson’s entertainment community and businesses are taking to provide for the safety of their employees and guests. Judith Dutton said, “We do not plan to change a thing as Phase 2 comes online. Among other things, we will continue to sanitize all surfaces on an hourly basis, greet our guests, and escort them to their seats while maintaining proper social distancing. We have reduced the capacity of our theatre to provide for adequate social distancing while seated, eliminated the intermission, and will escort parties out of the theatre after the show to ensure proper social distancing. We’re taking care of all of the safety aspects; all our guests have to do is come, enjoy the show and have fun.”
Lisa Marshall, Director of the Taney County Health Department, said, “Even though the state order expires, we need to remember that we are still in the middle of a pandemic. That’s why we are asking our communities businesses to continue to move forward cautiously.” She said that the Department is encouraging businesses to continue doing what they are currently doing to keep their employees and guests safe. Marshall also points out that there is a wealth of COVID-19 information and guidance on the Taney County Health Department’s website at https://www.taneycohealth.org/covid19/