Following the Lubbock City Council meeting, the City of Lubbock hosted a press conference discussing the Lubbock Economic Recovery Task Force's recommendations for reopening businesses.
Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope declared an eighth state of emergency during the Council meeting that adopts the first set of recommendations put in place by LERT.
Steve Massengale, co-chairman of LERT, said the recommendations put into place are practical, small steps that will allow the beginning of an economic recovery phase in Lubbock.
“We're going to do our best to keep the infection rate down, but we need to be realistic that it could go back up. That's why the limited set of businesses that will be starting up again need to follow the detailed and thorough recommendations of the Lubbock Safe program,” Massengale said. “We will work closely with our health department to monitor the progression of the virus in the community, and, if needed, we will make changes to our recommendations if we see a spike in the cases.”
The Lubbock Safe program is a voluntary program in which businesses can choose to participate to receive certification to ensure their customers that they are following proper guidelines and maintaining a healthy environment. Massengale said the only two major industries in their recommendations discouraged by the governor’s guidelines were personal care businesses and gyms.
“The task force had worked with local business owners to help develop guidelines for them to open safely and I thought they had done great work and understood what it was going to take to keep their various customer bases safe,” he said.
Robert Taylor, co-chairman of LERT, said there are a multiple safety measures taken on by these businesses and the task force provided plans in detail to give businesses guidance and ensure they are following the best practices.
Overall, the incentive for businesses who wish to volunteer for the Lubbock Safe program is certification. Massengale said there will be a way for those businesses to display their certification to their customers.
“You'll be given an image that you can use to promote in your marketing and advertising, social media, and then there'll be a list of those businesses on the city website that you can look at to see if they are compliant with our suggested guidelines. The Lubbock Chamber will also support us in this effort,” he said. “We expect and hope that businesses will do their best and we believe most of them will, but if for some reason we find that somebody has self-certified and they can't keep up the standard that we presented, then they will lose their certification.”
Dave Marcinkowski, a councilmember of LERT, said that although the governor placed restrictions on which businesses they could open, he is excited about the work LERT has done on the Lubbock Safe program as it will ensure customers that their businesses are safe.
“I'm going to do my best to encourage as many business leaders that I know, as well as whatever else it takes, to get businesses within Lubbock to adopt this…so that they can get that placard in their window so that when I bring my family to their restaurant, or to the movie theater, or to a grocery store, or wherever else, I'm looking for that and I'll know that it's a Lubbock Safe business, and I'll be going to do my business there,” he said.
Pope said that although businesses will begin reopening and may choose to participate in the Lubbock Safe program, citizens still need to follow the social distancing guidelines and set gathering limits recommended by the CDC and the White House.
“We still need to be staying at home to the best of our abilities. We don't need to be having parties. Dr. Cook and Mrs. Wells can tell you horror stories about folks that have, I think, been irresponsible and not been good neighbors and made decisions and it put not only their family but the places where they work and their kids and other folks at risk, because they chose to ignore these guidelines around social gatherings,” he said. “So that's still important. That's part of this path to a new normal. And that includes going back to school in the fall, that leaves Texas Tech's in school and that means we get to play football on Friday nights and go to Jones AT&T on Saturday. We've got a lot to do to get to that point, and eliminating, eliminating social gatherings is part of that.”