Stitt lays out plan to reopen Oklahoma; City leaders await a future plan

Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks during a press conference in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 where the State of Oklahoma has amassed it stockpile of personal protection equipment and medical supplies for the State's COVID-19 response. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman]

Gov. Kevin Stitt laid out a portion of the three phases on Wednesday to safely begin opening Oklahoma from the coronavirus pandemic.

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In the first two phases, Stitt said Oklahoman’s should continue to follow Safer-At Home guidelines, social distancing, and avoid social gatherings in groups or facilities.

Beginning Friday, personal care businesses can open if they adhere to strict sanitation and social distancing protocols. Personal care businesses include hair salons, barber shops, spas and nail salons.

“We will do this safely, responsibly, and based on the data in the state,” said Stitt.

The City of Guthrie remains in Shelter in Place until May 5. The City’s tighter restriction than the governor’s safer at home mandate still leaves a few questions.

City officials tells Guthrie News Page the city attorney will soon be reviewing the governor’s orders and determining if the governor’s plan can be immediately take place within the city limits, or if an emergency or special meeting of the city council would need to be called for a possible action.

Starting May 1, Restaurants’ dining rooms, movie theaters, sporting venues, gyms and places of worship can open statewide by following sanitation and social distancing.

If the hospital rates remain manageable for 14 days, the state would move to Phase Two, which includes organized sport activities, funerals and weddings can resume with more than 10 people and bars can reopen.

Stitt said more guidelines for Phase Three will be revealed once the state is in Phase Two.

The House of Representative Minority Leader Emily Virgin (D-Norman) said, “The governor’s decision to reopen Oklahoma businesses early comes from a place of fear, and it is understandable for him to be worried about the long-term economic effects of this pandemic. However, in this time of uncertainty, it is crucial not to make decisions hastily and out of fear but out of fact.”

She continued, “Furthermore, since the beginning of this crisis, we have failed to administer proper testing or tracing that is needed to ensure Oklahoma meets the CDC guidelines. Reopening without proper data and against the scientific community puts Oklahoma workers in a dangerous position to have to choose between their safety and their job. We urge the governor to reconsider until better data is available.”

Phase 1 guidance includes:

  • Elderly and vulnerable Oklahomans should continue to follow the safer-at-home guidelines.
  • Oklahomans should continue to maximize their physical distance from others when in public, avoid socializing in groups or facilities that do not allow for appropriate physical distancing, and minimize non-essential travel.
  • Employers should create plans to allow employees to return to work in phases, close common areas or enforce social distancing protocols, minimize non-essential travel and honor requests of employees who are part of a vulnerable population for special accommodations.
  • Starting on April 24, personal care businesses can reopen for appointments only if they adhere to strict sanitation protocols and are in communities that do not have more restrictions in place. This includes: hair salons, barber shops, spas, nail salons, and pet groomers. These businesses must maintain distance between customers and encourage customers to wait in their car until it is time for their appointment to avoid congestion in the lobbies or entrances.
  • Starting on April 24, State parks and outdoor recreation areas can be reopened.
  • Grocery stores should continue to maintain special hours for vulnerable populations.
  • Starting on May 1, restaurant dining rooms, movie theaters, gyms and sporting venues can re-open statewide if they adhere to strict social distancing and sanitation protocols.
  • Starting on May 1, Places of worship can reopen for in-person meetings or worship, if they leave every other row or pew open and adhere to CDC-recommended social distancing and sanitation protocols, plus the recommended guidelines from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.
  • Starting on May 1, Tattoo Parlors can reopen for appointments only and must adhere to sanitation protocols and social distancing protocols for distancing between customers and visitors.
  • During Phase 1, visits to senior living facilities and hospitals are prohibited and bars, schools, organized sporting events and camps should remain closed until further notice.

If Oklahoma’s hospital and incident rates remain manageable for 14 days, the State will move to Phase 2.

Phase 2 guidance includes:

  • Elderly and vulnerable Oklahomans should continue to follow the safer-at-home guidelines.
  • Oklahomans should continue to maintain physical distancing measures when in public.
  • Non-essential travel can begin to resume.
  • Employers should still close common areas or enforce social distancing and sanitation protocols.
  • Organized sports activities can reopen and operate under proper social distancing and sanitation protocols.
  • Bars can operate with diminished standing-room occupancy, where applicable and appropriate, and under social distancing and sanitation protocols.
  • Funerals and weddings can resume under social distancing protocols.
  • Children’s nursery areas in places of worship can reopen.

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