It's a small step, but it's a step in the right direction.

Retail businesses in Grand Junction that have been closed for the past several weeks are making preparations to welcome customers back to their stores. However, the initial opening is not going to be a free-for-all, as guidelines and restrictions are in place that must be followed.

Beginning May 1, Mesa County Public Health says retail businesses can open at a 50% capacity level which will allow customers to maintain six feet of distance between others.

Other retail business instructions and mandates include:
* Provide dedicated in-store visit hours for people at higher risk of severe illness.
* Install protective plexiglass screens at checkout counters.
*  Post signs at entrances notifying customers to STOP if they are sick and ask them not to enter store.
* Restrict return policy to only items that can be properly sanitized prior to re-selling.
*  Monitor workforce by checking for a fever greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, asking if they have a severe cough that started or has gotten worse in the last 48 hours, and by asking if they have shortness of breath that started in the last 48 hours.
*  Increase the availability of hand sanitizer, wipes and cleaning of frequently touched surfaces (including baskets/carts) for both employees and customers.
* Disallow sampling and customers access to bulk-bin options.
* Apply floor decals in cashier and queuing areas to establish safe waiting distance.
* Close public seating areas.
* Continue contactless signatures for deliveries.
* Post signage for employees and customers on good hygiene and other sanitation practices.

A number of other guidelines have been posted by Mesa County Public health for dealing with employees and implementing new procedures.

Most of these mandates have already been in place for those "essential" businesses that have been allowed to remain open. The objective remains to get revenue flowing again for local businesses while making concerted efforts to keep employees and customers as safe as possible.

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