By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
El RENO – It’s official.
Canadian County offices are back open for public access after restrictions were implemented two months ago due to a global pandemic.
Canadian County Commissioners, at their weekly meeting Monday morning, formally OK’d a new Canadian County Government COVID-19 policy.
The unanimous approval came after District 3 County Commissioner Jack Stewart offered his own declaration:
“I proclaim we’re open,” Stewart said, half-jokingly.
Canadian County Commission Chairman Marc Hader then read aloud the official one-page proclamation, which follow Gov. Stitt’s State of Oklahoma phase two guidelines for reopening and safety practices.
“We are one county,” said Hader, citing the challenge of meshing procedures and practices of various county departments into a uniform policy.
Canadian County government is housed in multiple buildings that include administration offices, courts and district attorney, sheriff/jail, juvenile center, election board, and health department.
The Canadian County Government COVID-19 policy outlines how the public accesses
Canadian County government services and buildings:
• Doors will be open in a limited fashion.
• People who are sick or have a temperature of 100.4F or higher should stay home.
• Citizens are encouraged to continue to conduct Canadian County business by phone, electronically or by mail if possible.
• The public is advised to call in advance to the Canadian County office or department with which they must conduct business to find out any specific restrictions or guidelines.
• Anyone entering a Canadian County office or facility should be prepared to either wait in a queue with at least six-foot spacing or to wait outside until space is available.
• A mask will be provided to anyone entering a county building if they don’t have their own.
The Canadian County Government COVID-19 policy states that county employees should:
• Seek directions and guidance from their elected official or department director for specific instructions about their work schedule, duty station or health and safety guidelines outside Gov. Stitt’s ongoing directive.
• Let their elected official or supervisor know as soon as possible if they are uncomfortable returning to work for any reason or are uncomfortable with their work environment. Accommodations may be made under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
Hand sanitizer dispensers/stations will be distributed throughout Canadian County offices, according to the document.
“They will get dispersed as quickly as possible,” Chairman Hader said.
The Canadian County Emergency Management office will provide face masks for county employees and staff upon request.
Anyone entering the Canadian County courthouse, juvenile center and other county buildings will be required to wear a face covering and be subject to having their temperature taken to see if they’re running a fever.
Plexiglas dividers have been installed in many county offices to reduce the risk of virus spread.
While Canadian County offices have started returning to some normalcy, Commissioner Stewart noted “75 to 80 percent” of people still prefer to stay home and are waiting to start getting out again.
The District 3 commissioner acknowledged that positive COVID-19 cases have increased but said that’s due largely to more testing.
“We’re basically back open for business,” Stewart said. “The public is going to be able to do business with the county again.”
County officers have developed procedures for their own departments.
“We’re all on the same page,” Stewart said.
Canadian County District Judge Jack McCurdy said the reopening policy for the courts is “obviously going to be a work in progress” that will have to be “tweaked day by day.”
Read Gov. Stitt’s three-phase “Open Up and Recover Safely” plan at https://www.okcommerce.gov/wp-content/uploads/Open-Up-and-Recover-Safely-Plan.pdf