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The original item was published from 4/23/2020 3:49:00 PM to 4/27/2020 9:07:32 AM.

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Posted on: April 23, 2020

[ARCHIVED] BREAKING NEWS: Mayors unveil plans for phased reopening

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CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. –  Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett and City of Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts rolled out  plans Thursday for the phased reopening of commercial activity in Clarksville-Montgomery County. 

Here is a link to their video message: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFUo2io91f8&feature=youtu.be 

Phase One of the plan is expected to take effect Friday, May 1, when businesses that are able to complete an extensive permitting process will be allowed to open. Businesses eligible to apply for Phase 1 permits include restaurants, retail shops and personal services businesses such as barbers, hair stylists and nail salons. Full details for businesses will be released Monday, April 27.

In another important element of Phase 1, businesses that were deemed essential and remained open through the stay-at-home era will be required to obtain a permit, increase their safety measures and allow less traffic in their stores.

The mayors met extensively in recent days with their chiefs of staff, local public health officials, City and County attorneys and representatives from Fort Campbell to develop a plan to move the community beyond the stay-at-home orders put in place last month to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Together, with our orders to limit non-essential activity, we have taken effective, necessary steps to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” Mayor Durrett said in a video message to the community. “Now, with a measure of success in our battle against this health crisis, we want to talk about the steps for reopening our community to business and activity.”

Mayor Pitts said reopening decisions were being guided by rigorous study of daily testing data. 

The decision to restore some activity in Phase I is based on the national standard of a downward trend of reported, documented COVID-19 cases over a 14-day period.

Statisticians at Austin Peay State University and local public health officials are analyzing local testing data and providing a daily chart, which shows  the rate of positive tests for novel coronavirus compared to all such tests being conducted in the community. 

GRAPHIC -- Positive MoCo COVID-19 Tests

“As you can see in the graph, this key metric has been declining since our peak percentage of positive tests on April 13,” Mayor Pitts said. “Our rate of infection has also declined since the peak in April. We have been looking at this data every day and are pleased to report the consistent decline. As we see that the spread of COVID-19 remains in control, more and more of our normal activities and gatherings will be able to resume.”

On Monday, Gov. Bill Lee announced the state order for Tennesseans to remain at home will expire Thursday, April 30. Under Lee’s plan, many businesses in 89 of Tennessee’s 95 counties, including Montgomery County, will be allowed to reopen, but still be subject to local regulations. The state’s other six counties -- Shelby, Madison, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, and Sullivan counties -- have local rather than state health departments, and also will proceed under more localized planning.

“We are well-aware that Gov. Lee’s stay-at-home order will be ending on April 30 and have been diligently working out a plan for Phase 1 of our reopening,” Mayor Durrett said. “It’s fully possible that some of our operating requirements will be more restrictive than the state’s order.”

Here’s a broad outline of how the phased reopening of the community will unfold.

  • On Monday, April 27, Montgomery County and the City of Clarksville will issue new Emergency and Executive Orders that will legally define the terms of the reopening.

  • With the new regulations in place, businesses will get several days -- from Tuesday, April 28 to Thursday, April 30 --  to apply online for permits to reopen. Some may choose to wait so the application process will remain open.

  • The online permit process will spell out in detail what businesses must do to obtain operating permits. On Friday, May 1 businesses that meet the Safe Operating Restrictions outlined in the Emergency and Executive Orders will be able to reopen.

The permit process makes businesses responsible for safeguarding community health by living up to the Safe Operation Protocols in the orders. To get a permit, businesses must agree to ensure social distancing, prevent unnecessary contact and unacceptably large crowds, protect employee health and increase sanitation, among other requirements.

To enforce the requirements, law enforcement and administrative personnel of the City and County will inspect businesses as they operate to ensure they are doing what they agreed to do when they obtained a permit. If businesses don’t comply, their permits and business licenses can be suspended or revoked and other penalty actions allowed by law will be considered.

Both mayors appealed to citizens to remain vigilant in the fight against COVID-19.

 “We want to thank every business, every organization, every family and every individual for buckling down during the stay-at-home period, for making necessary sacrifices and for doing the right things,” Mayor Pitts said. “But everyone must remember, we are not declaring victory, and we are still in a battle against COVID-19. Even as we strive to bring our community back to a reasonable level of activity, we must continue  aggressive efforts to limit the spread of this serious disease.”

Mayor Durrett said the team of local government leaders, healthcare professionals and public health experts will continuously monitor data about COVID-19 and make adjustments as indicated. 

“If the trend starts to go in a different direction, we may have to step back and tighten restrictions,” Mayor Durrett said. “The speed at which our community moves forward will come down to individual practices and responsibility.”

VIDEO SCRIPT, APRIL 23, 2020

OUR COMMUNITY REOPENING PLAN

‘It’s Not About Me -- It’s About Us’

MAYOR DURRETT: Together, with our stay-at-home orders to limit non-essential activity, we have taken effective, necessary steps to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community. 

MAYOR PITTS: We want to thank every business, every organization and every family, for buckling down during this stay-at-home period, for making necessary sacrifices and for doing the right things.

MAYOR DURRETT: Now, with a measure of success in our battle against this health crisis, we want to talk about the steps for reopening our community to business and activity. So we have named this reopening plan “It’s not about me -- It’s about us.”

MAYOR PITTS: This will be a phased process, allowing many businesses to possibly reopen as soon as Friday, May 1. And, as we see that the spread of COVID-19 remains in control, more and more of our normal activities and gatherings will be able to resume.

MAYOR DURRETT: Our reopening process requires businesses to agree to “Safe Operating Requirements” and do their part to continue safeguards, such as limiting occupancy to maintain social distancing, and using personal protective equipment.

MAYOR PITTS: Everyone must remember, we are not declaring victory, and we are still in a battle against COVID-19. Even as we strive to bring our community back to a reasonable level of activity, we must continue  aggressive efforts to limit the spread of this serious disease.

HEALTH FACTORS AND STATISTICS

MAYOR DURRETT: Our decision to consider restoring some activity in Phase I is based on the national standard of a downward trend of reported, documented COVID-19 cases over a 14-day period.

MAYOR PITTS: This graph, which provides testing data from the Tennessee Department of Health, based on tests submitted from Montgomery County, confirms a downward trend. 

MAYOR DURRETT: Thanks to statisticians at Austin Peay State University who analyzed the data and prepared this chart, we can see how the rate of positive tests compares to all tests for coronavirus being conducted in our community. 

MAYOR DURRETT: The graph shows a big dip at the end. This is an anomaly in the data because of the testing that opened up to individuals without symptoms in last Saturday’s drive thru at the health department. 

MAYOR PITTS: As you can see, this key metric has been declining since our peak percentage of positive tests on April 13. Our rate of infection has also declined since the peak in April. We have been looking at this data every day and are pleased to report the consistent decline.

TIMELINE 

MAYOR DURRETT: So, here’s how this phased reopening of our community will unfold.

MAYOR PITTS: On Monday, April 27, Montgomery County and the City of Clarksville will issue new Emergency and Executive Orders that will legally define the terms of the reopening.

MAYOR DURRETT: With the new regulations in place, businesses will get several days -- from Tuesday, April 28 to Thursday, April 30 --  to apply online for permits to reopen. Some may choose to wait so the application process will remain open.

MAYOR PITTS: The online permit process will spell out in detail what businesses must do to obtain operating permits. On Friday, May 1 businesses that meet the Safe Operating Restrictions outlined in the Emergency and Executive Orders will be able to reopen.

MAYOR DURRETT: Really, what this process does, is make businesses our partners in safeguarding our community and our residents. This makes businesses responsible for living up to the Safe Operation Protocols.

MAYOR PITTS: That’s right. We’re asking businesses to agree to operate in a manner that ensures social distancing, prevents unnecessary contact, and prevents unacceptably large crowds from gathering.

MAYOR DURRETT: And Safe Operations include measures to protect employee health, and to increase sanitation procedures.

MAYOR PITTS: As for enforcement, we plan to have law enforcement and administrative personnel of the City and County inspect businesses as they operate to ensure they are doing what they agreed to do when they obtained a permit.

MAYOR DURRETT: And yes, if businesses don’t comply, their permits and business licenses can be suspended or revoked and other penalty actions allowed by law will be considered.

NEW RULES IN PHASE ONE

MAYOR PITTS: Some new rules also will apply as we enter Phase I. Although we will allow more businesses to open, businesses that were deemed essential and remained opened through the stay-at-home era will be required to increase their safety measures and allow less traffic in their stores.

Let me repeat this point: Businesses that were deemed essential and remained opened through the stay-at-home era will be required to increase their safety measures and allow less traffic in their stores.

MAYOR DURRETT: And those who are most at risk to COVID-19 are asked to continue sheltering at home during this phase. The full details on what Phase 1 will look like for Clarksville, Montgomery County will be provided to the public in the orders issued on Monday, April 27.

PUBLIC’S ROLE

MAYOR PITTS: The health of our citizens is tied directly to the health of our local economy. We know that if individuals do not take responsibility for their behaviors and practices, we could see a graph that looks very different from the one we shared. Everyone -- business owners, employees and the public they serve -- must  observe the rules and regulations and make preventing the spread of COVID-19 a day-by-day mission.

MAYOR DURRETT: Our team of government leaders, healthcare professionals and public health experts will continuously monitor data about COVID-19 and make adjustments as indicated. If the trend starts to go in a different direction, we may have to step back and tighten restrictions. The speed at which our community moves forward will come down to individual practices and responsibility.

CLOSE

MAYOR PITTS: In the meantime, it is imperative that you follow the shelter-at-home orders and only go out for essential items like food and medicine. It’s not about me -- It’s about us.

MAYOR DURRETT: Following the orders that are currently in place, and the new orders to come, will help us stay on track. We thank you for spending some time with me and my good friend Mayor Pitts.

MAYORS: God bless you.


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