Oklahoma has begun the process of reopening, and while it’s encouraging to know our lives will begin to look a little more normal, we still have several months left of this virus.
Given our success in lowering hospitalization rates through effective social distancing, the Governor announced last week his phased plan to reopen nonessential businesses across the state. I was honored to be selected to serve on his advisory board to recommend procedures and provide insight as to the safest way to begin reopening. Decisions are being made based on the data we are seeing here in Oklahoma.
On April 24, elective surgeries were allowed to resume. Personal care businesses, like hair parlors and nail salons, were allowed to reopen at this time as well.
The first phase of the Governor’s plan began on Friday, May 1. Restaurant dining rooms, movie theaters, sporting venues, gyms and places of worship were allowed to open statewide if they follow the proper social distancing and sanitation protocols. However, the Governor asked that places of worship should keep their childcare centers closed during worship.
However, the statewide safer-at-home order will remain in effect for Oklahomans over 65 and those who are considered high-risk or immune compromised.
If our hospitalization rates continue to decrease for 14 days, the Governor will move forward with phase two of the reopening. If hospitalization rates decrease for another 14 days, we will move into phase three.
In the interest of public health, the Governor has outlined guidelines for each industry to follow as they begin to reopen. Restaurants have been asked to space out their tables to allow for six feet between families. People vising personal care businesses are encouraged to stay in their cars until it is time for their appointment to help eliminate a group gathering in the lobby.
Strong sanitation and health practices are encouraged as well. Many employees returning to work have been asked to wear masks and gloves while interacting with others to help prevent community spread. The Governor also asked that offices consider slowly bringing in a few employees at a time and keep common areas closed.
We don’t expect to see a spike in hospitalizations, but in the event we do, the Governor has stated he will reinstate health guidelines again. City ordinances may differ from state, so check for guidelines from your local leaders as well.
The Legislature is expected to resume session on Monday, May 4. We last met in early April to appropriate money from our Rainy Day Fund to agencies who were expecting cuts due to COVID-19’s impact on the state economy. Both in April and over the following weeks, we’ll follow health guidelines and limit our interactions with other people to help slow the virus.
We are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we still have several more months to go first. Please wash your hands often, continue to stay home as much as possible and keep six feet of distance between yourself and other people when you are out in public.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve District 31!
Rep Garry Mize, a Republican, serves District 31 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes Logan and Oklahoma counties.