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Tampa Bay businesses work to reopen, officials say many still using COVID-19 safety measures

TAMPA, Fla. — Some local businesses are trying to figure out how they’re going to reopen now that Florida is in Phase 3.“Many are excited to be open for business, and open for business at full capacity. But, there are still a lot of questions that business owners have in regards to what are they legally allowed to do or not do in their business,” said Kelly Flannery, President & CEO of South Tampa Chamber of Commerce.Flannery says many business owners still have the opportunity and the right to determine what happens in their businesses.“Local business owners can still make the decisions about how they feel it’s best to keep their employees and their customers safe,” said Flannery.RELATED: Local counties remind people mask mandates still in effect, even under Phase 3 of reopeningOwners can still request face coverings in their businesses even if there aren’t any local ordinances in place, and they can still require social distancing.“Be very clear in regards to what are the expectations for your business. Post your sanitization and cleaning protocols on your website and on your social media. Share with your customers before they come in, whether that be through social media or an email a blast about what they can expect then they come into your business,” said Flannery.Since the pandemic started, many businesses had to change the way they serve customers, and Flannery says that may not stop.“Individual business owners have to really think hard about who is my client and what is it that they’re going to expect from me and how can I continue to serve those individuals,” said Flannery.Businesses have had to shift their focus to be able to operate during the pandemic.Flannery says many owners are still doing that, focusing on two different types of customers. One is someone who is comfortable being around people now that businesses can operate at full capacity. The other isn’t comfortable with that and still wants to limit contact and social interactions.That’s why Flannery says many businesses will still utilize the convenience factor.“If you started doing something new and innovative during safer at home, delivery, online ordering, curbside pick up — we’re encouraging business owners that even after you open and you’re now going back to traditional business practices, continue to do those new and innovative practices as well so that you can really serve the maximum number of customers,” said Flannery.Officials say businesses need help from the community now more than ever.“As consumers, what we can do kind of a call to action if you will is just to continue to support these businesses. Our local and small businesses are those that were impacted the most due to the pandemic this past year as well as for the business closures,” said Flannery.

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