APOPKA, Fla. – Businesses are beginning to reopen with new restrictions and guidelines in Central Florida as phase one of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ reopen Florida plan starts.
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To help with the daunting task of reopening, Apopka officials are partnering with Medek Health to launch the region’s first digital pass to show COVID-19 information on phones.
“We want our businesses to have a gold seal, a designation so that consumers know our restaurants, retail and more are safe and COVID free,” Apopka Mayor Bryan Nelson said. “As we tried to build this ourselves, we were excited to find Medek up the road providing everything we needed to create our Apopka gold seal.”
Nelson said the gold seal standard is a voluntary initiative. Businesses do not have to participate, but Nelson is hoping they will to help customers feel at ease.
Nelson said the gold seal sets four criteria businesses must met:
- Staff and customers must have their temperatures checked daily.
- Everyone must wear a mask.
- Establishments must have special accommodations for customers and employees who are elderly or have underlying conditions.
- Businesses are using the COVID SafePass app.
Once the app is downloaded, users will answer a pre-screening questionnaire. The questionnaire runs on the honor system. Officials urge honesty when answering the questions so the app can access your risk level.
- In the last 14 days have you traveled outside the United States?
- Since March 1st 2020 have you worked remote or onsite for your job?
- Do you work in the medical or first responder field dealing directly with patients?
- Since March 1st 2020 how often do you physically see friends?
- Do you wear a facemask when you leave the house?
Users should also be prepared to check off symptoms if they are feeling ill or sick.
Once the questions have been answered, the user will be given their results.
"Based on the questionnaire, the residents and employees of businesses will be able to assess their risk and determine how urgent their need is for testing," Stan Van Meter, CEO, Medek Health said.
Van Meter said if the person is at high risk or has questions, they can make a telemedicine appointment with the doctor through the app. They can also find the closest testing center location.
Users can share their personal information or complete the questionnaire anonymously. Van Meter said businesses can also ask their employees to get the SafePass. Users could then choose to share their results in a safe and private way.
“Everyone wants to return to normal, but we can never do this without knowing who is low-risk to spread the disease,” Van Meter said.
Ryan Mezzell with Medek Health said the app can also track outbreaks using a feature that allows users to check in to businesses.
"It something happens at that business and we find out that someone actually did have COVID there, now we can anonymously get a message in our application that says, 'Hey, we see you visited that place. We don't know who you are, but we see you visited that place. You should probably check to see if you need to be screened,'" Mezzell said.
According to a news release, the city of Apopka will be providing the service to all area residents and businesses for free.
Bob Johnson, the owner of The Catfish Place, said the gold seal standard is ambitious, but he thinks this will help bring customers back to Apopka.
“I hope if they see that they’ll see we’re doing everything we can possibly do to make ourselves available for you again,” Johnson said.