St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper formed the St. Tammany Economic Recovery and Resiliency Advisory Council on Monday, April 20 to establish the Live Safe. Work Safe. Shop Safe. Action Plan and re-opening strategy for St. Tammany Parish to begin making plans to prepare for the possible May 15, 2020 expiration of his extended Stay At Home Order which runs concurrently with the Governor’s extended statewide Stay-at-Home Order.
President Cooper’s extended Stay-at-Home Order includes specific guidelines for non-essential retail businesses that mirror the language in the Live Safe. Work Safe. Shop Safe. Action Plan. Cooper is committed to having St. Tammany Parish poised and ready to slowly and gradually reopen, when data shows it is suitable to do so, in every effort to restart the St. Tammany economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is vital that we balance the health of our community with the health of our economy, and we are working to strike this balance every day. Parish Government is prioritizing the Live Safe. Work Safe. Shop Safe Action Plan to ensure that all residents and businesses in St. Tammany Parish can operate as comfortably and as safely as possible,” Cooper said. “Beginning Friday, we will maximize the opportunities we have— the resumption of some elective surgeries in our medical facilities, the opening of non-essential retail businesses and professional offices with 10 or fewer people inside — as well as those opportunities presented in the changes put forth in the new order, and the utilization of new options for restaurants to allow patrons to eat on-site without table side service.”
In the first phase, Cooper tasked the Advisory Council with developing short-term re-opening framework to address the needs of St. Tammany Parish, while at the same time, taking into consideration the health and safety of St. Tammany residents and the needs of our entire region.
“The work that the Economic Recovery & Resiliency Advisory Council is doing to make recommendations to position the Parish to balance public safety and economic conditions for our communities and businesses is critical,” says Chris Masingill, St. Tammany Corporation CEO. “We are working with representatives from all sectors of our economy and healthcare experts to make sure we have the most robust plan in place that prioritizes public health and safety as we re-open our business operations under a new normal. President Cooper has made it clear that this Council should balance the health of our people and the health of our economy. This is what we will continue to do as we work on the Live Safe. Work Safe. Shop Safe. Action Plan. The Council is designing its recommendations to protect, grow and respond to the needs of St. Tammany so we can continue to be the destination of choice for our people, our businesses and our communities to thrive.”
To date, the St. Tammany Economic Recovery and Resiliency Advisory Council has held five meetings, and collected significant amount of community and business input through a telephone briefing with elected officials, a business survey to solicit feedback from business and industry, and the request for public comments through a dedicated email address. The Advisory Council anticipates hosting additional telephonic briefings, as well as the continued solicitation of public input submitted to the Council at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Advisory Council used standards put forth by the White House, the Governor’s Office and other industry-related resources, to draft preliminary recommendations including: the timelines for the phased re-opening of the business and the recommended protocols for businesses using state and federal guidelines as well as industry recommendations.
St. Tammany Recovery and Resiliency Advisory Council submitted their initial draft of the Live Safe, Work Safe, Shop Safe Action Plan to Parish President Cooper on Friday, April 24, 2020. This framework is intended to provide local parish guidance in the absence of specific federal or state guidance. Individual industry sectors will also need to consider the guidelines and operational requirements but forth by their industry organizations and regulatory boards and councils.
Over the course of next week, the Advisory Council will hold a series of sector-specific focus groups to gather additional feedback and concerns from local industry representatives. For dates and times, click here. The Advisory Council will continue to meet to review the public comments and focus group insights, review direct feedback on this draft preliminary framework from Parish President Cooper, and edit and expand this document accordingly prior to final submission of the framework recommendation to the Parish President on Friday, May 8, 2020.
Though the pandemic is an ongoing and ever-evolving situation, Parish President Mike Cooper recognizes the opportunity to maintain public health and safety while gradually and responsibly opening up our local economy in thoughtful, intentional phases, when data shows it is suitable to do so.
Based on the White House’s Reopening America Plan, the Governor’s executive order and adjusted for local guidelines, each phase in the timeline is tempered with the condition of continued decline; at any time, if cases trend upward again, restrictions may temporarily be enforced again. This should especially hold true even after the community achieves Phase III in case a second wave of cases emerges in the fall.
Cooper urges businesses to take this time to maximize this opportunity to plan for the implementation of guidelines of the new normal into their existing business operations and position themselves for the strongest economic success possible. Feedback is welcome and the public’s patience is appreciated while best practices continue to be identified in the fight against COVID-19.
As stage two unfolds throughout May, the Advisory Council is expected to be expanded to continue the build out of the Live Safe. Work Safe. Shop Safe. Action Plan, with their primary focus on understanding and mobilizing long-term recovery efforts and ensuring the resilient return of public and economic health locally. The expanded Advisory Council should consist of a complete spectrum of local industry and business community partners, including public and private sectors. Representation on the expanded group may include:
- Elected Leadership
- Local Trade Associations
- Industry Representatives
- Community Stakeholders
- Religious Leaders
- K-12 Public and Private Leadership
- Northshore Technical Community College Leadership
- Tri-Parish Works
- Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southeastern Louisiana University
- Personal Care and Lifestyle Businesses
- First Responders and Law Enforcement
- All major hospital CEOs and independent physician groups
- Leaders from top industry groups affected (either displaced or essential)
- Hospitality/Tourism/Arts & Entertainment
- Food and Beverage
- Professional/Technical Services
- Local business membership organizations
- Community and Non-Profit groups
- Sports and Recreation