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Public health officials guidelines for businesses and masks explained

two women wearing masks as they leave costco
Two shoppers wear cloth face masks as they leave Costco in Pocatello.

POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Governor Brad Little's plan to re-open Idaho is expected to move into stage two on Saturday.

After nearly seven weeks with empty tables, restaurants will have the option to open their dining rooms again. Indoor gyms, recreation facilities and hair and beauty salons are also allowed to re-open.

Stage two will be enacted only if Idaho can meet public health officials criteria.

“We know they’re waiting until the very last day because things can change, certainly, between now and Saturday. But at this point in time, all indicators do look like we would be moving forward to stage two as planned,” said Maggie Mann, the district director for the Southeastern Idaho Public Health Department.

On May 1, Little announced the 'Stay Healthy Idaho' order, which says if a business is open before their appropriate 'stage,' the owner could face misdemeanor charges.

“They are in violation of that order if they are choosing to operate before the stage guidelines says they should,” Mann said.

Restaurants are required to submit a plan to their local health department that outlines what measures will be taken to keep staff and customers safe.

Some changes that can be expected are less seating available in dining rooms, waiting in the car for a table to open up and possibly even wearing masks while not eating.

“It probably is going to continue to look different and the reason that’s so important is we know the virus is still circulating,” Mann said.

Wearing cloth face masks is a personal decision and is not mandated by the government. However, public health officials are strongly recommending people wear them when they can.

“What we know is they provide an added layer of protection,” Mann said.

The CDC advises using them to "help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others." It's especially helpful to wear them in places with community transmission and where it's hard to social distance, like grocery stores.

“I wear mine to protect you, and you wear yours to protect me,” Mann said.

While masks are not mandated by the government, private businesses, like Costco, have legal grounds to require customers to wear them at their location.

Slowing the spread of the virus and opening up the economy are directly influenced by our individual actions, Mann said.

“We want really to be able to continue to move forward, we don’t want to have to take a step back,” Mann said.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus Coverage

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Emma Iannacone

Emma is a reporter for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.


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