Virginia assembles COVID-19 Business Task Force to assist with safely reopening

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has put together a COVID-19 Business Task Force to assist with plans on reopening the commonwealth.

One of the members of the group said it’s an important step in ensuring local businesses and services resume in a safe manner.

“I think it’s obvious that social distancing or mitigation measures of some sort are going to be with us for awhile,” said Patrick Crute, executive director of the Virginia alliance of YMCAs.

The task force includes two-dozen business leaders who are meeting via conference calls to brainstorm ways to move toward reopening businesses safely in the commonwealth.

“Our goal in participating in the task force is to communicate with the administration and illustrate what measures make sense and what measures we can implement both quickly and in a kind of sustainable fashion,” Crute said.

While their doors are closed, the YMCA is providing emergency child-care with limited service implementing groups of less than 10 and using tools like temperature screening.

He said that the task force has been beneficial in helping to get a common idea on how to safely open up to the public again.

“It was really interesting to see that some of the same issues that we’re having of course are replicated in other industries,” Crute said.

When it comes to the YMCA, Crute said that they’re looking at touchless member check-in, eliminating common use of some pieces of equipment, expanding space in between machines and getting rid of towel and coffee service.

“We just want to open at a time when it makes sense and it’s not going to threaten or sicken any of our members or our employees but when we do open we want to make sure we can provide community service in the way we’ve done for almost 150 years in Virginia and do it safely,” he said.

The task force includes those involved in theater, barber shops, amusement parks, museums, restaurants, bakeries, breweries and other businesses from around Virginia. It also has representatives from Amazon and Walmart. The full list of members can be seen on the Virginia government’s website.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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