City Council launches Lubbock Safe Program

The Lubbock City Council approved the city’s eighth disaster declaration that will follow guidelines set in Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-18.

With Abbott’s order going into effect at 12:01 a.m. on May 1, certain businesses will reopen amid the pandemic. The Lubbock City Council voted to implement a city order that will go in effect the same day as Abbott’s order and will remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. on May 15.

Abbott’s order, which was issued Monday, outlines guidelines for businesses in Texas to reopen but also remain safe amid COVID-19. For more information on businesses that will reopen and businesses one should avoid under Abbott’s executive order, one can visit the Office of the Texas Governor website to look at the executive order.

Lubbock’s disaster declaration, which the Lubbock City Council voted on during a regularly-scheduled, virtual meeting Tuesday, adopts Abbott’s order and will consist of guidelines from the Lubbock Safe Program, a program the Lubbock Economic Recovery Taskforce recommended the city utilize as businesses reopen.

Under the city order, Lubbock City Manager Jarrett Atkinson said the mayor may amend guidelines or interpret them.

“For any workplace that is open, you’re going to have to do social distancing. That’s a rule,” he said regarding the emergency order. “Lubbock Safe is voluntary. It’s an opportunity for businesses to tell either their customers and their staff ‘Hey, we’re going above and beyond.’”

Dave Marcinkowski, partner at Madera Residential and member of the Lubbock Economic Recovery Taskforce, said he hopes a Lubbock Safe Program online portal will be open Wednesday to allow business owners who are wanting to take part in the program register their business and receive a decal marker that shows they are Lubbock Safe-certified.

The initial area of the program are health and safety guidelines, Marcinkowski said. General program guidelines for certain businesses include:

Hand sanitizer stations should be place near entrances

Face coverings are encouraged for all employees and customers

Those at-risk of COVID-19 should stay home

6-foot social distancing should be practiced

Barriers should be placed between cashiers and customers

Before every shift, forehead temperatures and health surveys on all employees should be taken

It is encouraged to use touchless payment options

In 30-minute intervals, workstations and touch points should be sanitized

Proper signage regarding procedures should be posted

Businesses should follow health guidelines specific to their industry

The program also has guidelines specific to certain types of businesses, Marcinkowski said. Some of these specific guidelines include:

Enclosed shopping malls: 25 percent occupancy limit for enclosed areas that excludes employees; those under 18-years-old should be accompanied by a parent or guardian; food courts, dining areas, play areas and other areas that facilitate social gatherings should be closed.

Big box and large-store retail: Should follow occupancy based on the size of a facility

Restaurants: Different from bars, which are excluded from Abbott’s order; 25 percent occupancy limit for enclosed areas that excludes employees; a minimum of six customers per table; encouraging reservations; valet services are suspended with the exception of handicapped people in need of additional services; self-serve buffets and stations should be avoided

Non-essential medical facilities: 25 percent occupancy limit for enclosed areas that excludes employees; customers or patients should only be seen by appointment; patients should wait outside or in their cars until asked to come inside for an appointment; forehead temperatures and health surveys will be conducted on all patients, and those with temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit will be sent home; those under the age of 18 and special-needs customers may be accompanied by a parent or guardian, who are encouraged to wear a face mask

Child-care providers: forehead temperatures and health surveys will be conducted on everyone; pick-up and drop-off of children will take place outside unless the parent has a legitimate reason to go inside; each child will be provided individuals meals and snacks

Places of worships: Encourage attendees to sit with one’s family unit or group; possibly add more service time to facilitate social distancing; social distancing should occur while seating; staff should sanitize seats; a single collection box is not passed around, and online donations are encouraged

Event centers: 25 percent occupancy limit for enclosed areas that excludes employees; ticket sales should occur online; social distancing should occur while seating

Outdoor areas: Similar to event centers; maintain social distancing; face coverings are encouraged
Warehouse and distribution centers: Workspaces and touch points should be sanitized
In addition to this program, previous support efforts were discussed during the meeting.

Regarding the Revolving Loan Fund Program put into effect Wednesday, Atkinson said the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance and Market Lubbock, Inc. each will provided $1 million to support small businesses. The South Plains Association of Governments (SPAG) will help administer these funds.

Since April 22, Atkinson said there have been between 300 to 400 inquiries regarding the program. There were 91 business that began the inquiry process and are moving forward.

Of these 91 businesses, SPAG has 57 completed applications, Atkinson said. These 57 applications will represent all $2 million of funding.

SPAG also is holding 10 complete applications in case any of the 57 applications do not get completed, Atkinson said. SPAG will administer the entire $2 million by mid-May, but some funding will be administered before that date.

Depending on the amount of 2019 gross revenue, Atkinson said businesses will receive loan amounts based off a tiered system. Businesses with gross revenues between $100,000 and $500,000 will be eligible for up to $20,000, businesses with gross revenues between $500,000 and $2.5 million will be eligible for up to $40,000 and businesses with gross revenues between $2.5 million and $5 million will be eligible for up to $60,000.

Regarding the current applications, Atkinson said 23 of 57 applications fit into the $100,000 to $500,000 tier, 29 of 57 applications fit into the $500,000 to $2.5 million tier and 5 of 57 applications fit into the $2.5 million to $5 million tier. All but one of the applicants asked for the maximum amount of funding based on their tier.