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Billings businesses create campaign to give confidence to customers after they reopen

Posted at 11:04 PM, Apr 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-25 01:04:29-04

The Open and Safe is a new campaign developed by Big Sky Economic Development to help businesses reopen.

Businesses can display a poster stating a commitment to frequently sanitize, encourage social distancing, manage occupancy and monitor employees' health.

Buffalo Wild Wings has been able to stay open for take-out.

"We're very excited to get back fully open and to be able to open up and have guests within our restaurant," said Brad Anderson, Buffalo Wild Wings franchise owner.

The restaurant will be a little bit different when it opens.

Employees are cleaning and rearranging tables so customers can have proper distancing.

"They'll sit at every booth," Anderson said. "Because you're not facing another table, that's why the state has decided to allow us to do that. So if you walk in, don't be alarmed. You'll see people sitting at all booths and then all tables will be at six-foot spacing."

Anderson is part of the Big Sky Economic Development’s Yellowstone County Economic Response and Recovery Team.

The team had a virtual conference Friday announcing its Open and Safe Campaign.

"That looks at dovetailing those public health guidelines with helping businesses be equipped and empowered to restart in a way that is safe," Arveschoug said.

"We're highlighting the businesses that have made this commitment to public health and also trying to make these consumers feel safe visiting these businesses again," said Lilly Corning of the Corning Companies and Restart Committee co-chair.

"It's a voluntary pledge from local businesses to take meaningful steps towards a new normal and to operate in ways that protect themselves, their employees and their customers," said John Brewer, Billings Chamber of Commerce president/CEO and Restart Committee co-chair.

"The open and safe campaign is quite frankly brilliant," said John Felton, Yellowstone County health Officer and Riverstone Health President/CEO. "It's a way to say that all of the businesses that are taking the pledge are recognizing that open is not enough. Safe is not enough. We need to be open and safe."

The Joy of Living owner Kris Carpenter is also on the team and she’s getting ready to re-open.

"Cleaning the stores, completely sanitizing everything, marking the floors with distancing markers for our guests to know what's six feet so they can safely distance," she said.

It’s been a challenge for business owners during the Stay At Home Orders.

"Many of the local businesses weren't able to do on-line sales, so for six weeks or more, they've had no income coming in," Carpenter said.

All of this is to help local businesses.

"It's a great plan," Anderson said. "It's simple. It's elegant. We are ready and open and we can't wait for everybody to come back."

"Shopping local, it's more critical than it's ever been," Carpenter said. "It's not just a feel good thing. It's a survival tool right now."

"Be safe in doing that, but re-engage and shop with our local community," said Arveschoug.

About 130 businesses have met on Zoom with the response and recovery team and more meetings are planned for next week.

More information is available on the team's website.