There’s an air of excitement in Lake Ozark – and possibly relief as well – after Gov. Mike Parson earlier this week relaxed the COVID-19 recommendations in conjunction with the Missouri Department of Health effective at 12:01 a.m. Monday.

There’s an air of excitement in Lake Ozark – and possibly relief as well – after Gov. Mike Parson earlier this week relaxed the COVID-19 recommendations in conjunction with the Missouri Department of Health effective at 12:01 a.m. Monday.

The heart of the City of Lake Ozark is The Strip where bars, restaurants and retail businesses have been closed for the last several weeks, except for carryout service at some restaurants. But beginning Monday, they can be open to the public as long as they follow social distancing and gathering requirements.

The governor’s stay-at-home order expires at midnight Sunday, and the order released from the Department of Health and Human Services Monday allows businesses to reopen – under certain guidelines. It expires Sunday, May 31.

“This should help our businesses get back to work,” Mayor Gerry Murawski said. “But businesses have to observe the distancing rules and use common sense.”

Key to the new rules is that restaurants can offer dining-in services provided they observe the limitations on social distancing (six feet) between tables and no more than 10 people at a table. Previously, businesses were restricted to no more than 10 people (including staff) in the building.

The continued use of drive-through, curbside and pickup services is encouraged.

Murawski reiterated that the city will follow the Department of Health and Governor’s recommendations.

“We expect business owners to protect their employees and their customers for the benefit of public health,” the mayor emphasized. “From our perspective, businesses will be left to their own to follow the order. We’re preaching social distancing and proper precautions.”

Murawski said he has personally visited with many of the business owners along The Strip about the process of reopening to the public. He emphasized the need for responsibility and to protect the public’s health and that of employees.

Employees or patrons who feel that their health is being compromised are encouraged to speak with their manager or to leave the premises, Murawski said.

Anyone who is compelled to file a complaint about potential violations of the rules can contact the Miller County Health Center at 573-369-2359. Any calls made to the Lake Ozark Police Department will be referred to the Health Center. 

He cautioned, however, if the Miller County Health Center contacts the LOPD for assistance, officers will respond.

Public health

The City of Lake Ozark has been conscientious about employee and public health during the COVID-19 crisis, closing the City Hall to the public while maintaining essential services, staggering work schedules to meet social distancing and grouping recommendations, and publicly reminding businesses, residents and visitors to practice good coronavirus hygiene. 

Now, the city has taken yet another important step in the interest of public health -- providing public hand-sanitizing stations on The Strip. 

Employees this week attached sanitizing stations to several city utility poles. City officials encourage the public to take advantage of the free service as patrons begin to re-visit businesses. 

Phase 2

As part of the effort to reopen businesses, the City of Lake Ozark is allowing businesses to establish “oasis areas” outside their buildings to accommodate their customers.

Businesses can establish special, regulated areas for additional tables and gathering within the parameters of their property lines six feet from the street sideline to their building.

This process is similar to what the city does during BikeFest. 

Patrons will be allowed to consume alcohol in the “oasis areas” but cannot move from one business to another with an open container. Interested businesses must apply for a Picnic License through the city to qualify for the areas.

“They’ve taken a big hit the last couple of months and this is our way of giving back to them,” City Administrator Dave Van Dee said. “This is our exception for businesses that we’ve tried hard to support for the last 10 years.”

Lake Race 

Lake Race 2020 officials announced recently that the event will be held May 28-30 at the 7-Mile area of the Lake. Area residents and visitors will be able to get a close look at some of the fastest boats in the world and meet drivers and crew members.

As part of the festivities, the Festival of Speed Meet and Greet is returning to The Strip Thursday, May 28 – again with adherence to social gathering in mind. Murawski said the city will work with Lake Race officials to ensure the latest distancing and gathering rules are followed.

“Again, we have to rely on the spectators and participants to follow the rules,” Murawski said.