Business owners, customers encouraged to show they can “count on” each other through the Count on Me NC program

06.01.2020

Business owners, customers encouraged to show they can “count on” each other through the Count on Me NC program

This free, voluntary program provides relevant training guidance to business owners as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and asks customers to pledge their support to protecting employees and fellow patrons

MEDIA RELEASE

BOLIVIA, N.C. – As local businesses begin to reopen, both businesses owners and customers are encouraged to show that they can count on one another to make the transition as safe and healthy as possible.

Brunswick County Environmental Health and NC Cooperative Extension are working together to educate the county’s business community and residents about the Count on Me NC program, a statewide initiative launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the state’s three-phase approach to lifting restrictions due to the virus.

The goal is to build confidence and trust in restaurants and lodging establishments. When customers see this endorsement, they can be certain that the business is taking additional steps to protect their employees and customers and is committed to playing a leadership role in protecting our communities.

“I was thrilled to see many Brunswick County restaurants, organizations and businesses already participating,” said Cheryle Jones Syracuse, Family and Consumer Science staff member at North Carolina Cooperative Extension of Brunswick County. “A lot of the names are those I know through our Safe Plates Food Safety Manager certification classes, and I am proud that they are committed to the safety of our families and neighbors here in Brunswick County.”

Seeing some Brunswick County businesses that have already completed the Count on Me NC program is also not a surprise to Environmental Health Director Danny Thornton.

“There has always been a strong culture of health safety in our restaurants, as highlighted with our annual Golden A Awards for the hundreds of restaurants that score 95 percent or better in required annual inspections,” Thornton said. “As we continue to move through the state’s reopening phases, we want to see even more businesses participate and have our residents take the pledge that they want to protect one another’s health while visiting businesses, too.”

Thornton said some Environmental Health and NC Cooperative Extension team members have already completed the training modules so they have a better understanding of what business and restaurant owners are being asked to do—including himself and Syracuse.

“We are really proud to see how our business community reacted to the pandemic through their efforts to encourage social distancing, provide personal protective equipment to staff and emphasize best health practices,” Thornton said. “We want to continue to support your efforts to reopen and be the best program ambassadors we can be as you work through the training.”

How to Participate

Cheryle Jones Syracuse holds her Count on Me NC certificate.

Brunswick County recognizes that many of our businesses and residents want to do everything they can to create a safer environment for one another in response to COVID-19. We recognize the voluntary efforts you are taking.

Businesses and individuals who complete the program are invited to take a photo with their certificate (remember to socially distance!) and share it with the County either by email or by tagging the County’s social media in your Facebook or Twitter post. We will share photos we receive whenever possible to thank you for your commitment to public health.

Here is a quick overview of how to complete the program for both businesses and customers.

Businesses

Businesses and restaurants that want to participate in the program are asked to do the following:

  1. Encourage all staff members to complete the Count on Me NC training course
  2. Print the certificate of completion and access the marketing toolkit
  3. Display the certificate and window decal at your business
  4. Display the Count on Me NC logo on your website/app and link it to https://countonmenc.org/

Each module takes about 30 minutes. The training can be done on a desktop, tablet, phone and most mobile devices. Spanish versions of Count on Me NC are expected to go live in June.

“I encourage all restaurant owners or managers to view the appropriate modules and to encourage their staff to take the lessons, too,” Syracuse said. “Then post the certificates proudly to show your customers that they can count on you.”

This evidence-based training program offers modules for restaurant owners and operators, for restaurant staff who work in the front and the back of the house, for hospitality, and other types of businesses like retail, spas, lodging, salons, fitness centers and museums. There is also a module on cleaning and disinfecting surfaces for COVID-19. The program also has several resources and information sheets available for business owners.

While North Carolina already has strict health and safety guidelines in place, Count on Me NC businesses have taken additional training and implemented new procedures in light of COVID-19. All Count on Me NC businesses have pledged to:

  • Ensure staff wear cloth face coverings if they cannot keep six feet apart
  • Ensure safe sanitation practices are followed
  • Administer health checks to all staff prior to shift start
  • Make sure indoor and outdoor seating meets all physical distancing guidelines
  • Provide hand sanitizer or handwashing stations at all entrances
  • Clean and sanitize common areas, bathrooms and high-touch surfaces regularly using the CDC recommendations
  • Clean and sanitize all tables and hard surfaces after every use
  • Clean settings, utensils, menus and condiments after every use or provide single-use options

Anyone who completes any of the modules will receive a printable Count On Me NC certificate and be featured on NCRLA list of participating businesses at https://countonmenc.org/participating-businesses/

Customers

Take the Guest Pledge at https://countonmenc.org/guest-pledge/ and share it on your social media. Here’s what you are pledging to do:

  • Wear a cloth face covering like a mask or scarf
  • Wait your turn by maintaining six feet of physical distance from others
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer
  • Use contactless delivery or takeout options if you have been recently exposed to, or have symptoms of, COVID-19
  • Be patient and kind to staff and other guests as we all try to adjust to a new normal

For more information, contact Environmental Health at 910.253.2150 or Cooperative Extension in Brunswick County at 910.253.2610.

North Carolina Cooperative Extension is committed to helping restaurants serve food safely. The center offers a Safe Plates for Food Safety Manager course that teaches basic food safety for restaurants. Brunswick County’s NC Cooperative Extension is planning for classes this fall. For more information, contact Cooperative Extension.

About Count on Me NC

Count on Me NC was developed through a partnership between the NCSU Cooperative Extension, NC Department of Health and Human Services, NC Restaurant and Lodging Association and Visit NC. The website also offers listing of additional resources which also includes the compliance checklist and the symptom screening questionnaire.

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For media inquiries, contact the Public Information Officer at 910.253.2995 or email meagan.kascsak@brunswickcountync.gov

County Contact Information & Virtual Services During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Brunswick County is urging individuals to visit our website and to call or email county departments for assistance first before visiting county offices. The County now requires appointments for in-person visits. Not sure who to contact? Call our main line and we can help direct your calls.

  • Main County Contact Information: 910.253.2000 / 800.442.7033