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ADDC embraces Count on Me NC

As people are emerging from the cocoon of COVID quarantine, the question remains: how safe is it to step back out and visit the places one loves?

According to a recent report from Visit NC, 30 percent of North Carolinians have developed an increasing interest in vacationing within N.C. With 70 percent of residents likely to take these trips by car, N.C. towns are projected to become the target market for many in-state destinations. (Visit NC – 2020 NC Resident Sentiment-Impact of COVID-19)

To help businesses provide a safe experience for visitors, the N.C. Cooperative Extension, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association and Visit NC have joined forces to create Count on Me NC. This statewide public health initiative provides tools to empower businesses to help keep everyone safe from COVID-19. The website, countonmenc.org, provides protective guidelines and links to free training videos with helpful information for businesses. Those who complete training are added to the statewide list of participating businesses, currently at more than 3,200.

In addition to training tools, the Count on Me NC website also encourages patronage of participants, providing a link to businesses and a map for travelers who want to ensure the safest shopping and dining experience possible. Marketing
materials are also offered to businesses who have completed the training, giving an extra and free advertising opportunity for small businesses.

An increasing number of area businesses are stepping up to the challenge and participating in Count on Me NC. In downtown Albemarle, three restaurants had completed the training at the time this article was written: Five Points Public House, Tiffany’s at the Boardroom and Second Street Sundries.
“Second Street Sundries is not only committed to following the strict health and safety guidelines that North Carolina has in place for all restaurants, but we wanted to take additional steps in evidence based training to ensure our staff is competent in social distancing, employee health and sanitation practices,” Beth Olivieri, a spokeswoman for Second Street Sundries, said. “Through the use of this multifaceted approach, we feel confident that we are taking all steps necessary
to do our part in keeping all of our employees and customer base safe.”

Another downtown Albemarle participant of Count on Me NC is Melissa Kathleen’s School of Dance.

Although not yet open for group classes, Melissa Zaleski, owner of the dance studio, felt the training was an important step to take as she continues to prepare a safe experience for the many school age students who typically attend her classes.

Joy Almond, Main Street manager for the city of Albemarle and director of Albemarle Downtown Development Corporation, encourages local businesses in downtown and beyond to partake in Count on Me NC.

“I think this is a great tool for our small businesses to utilize,” said Almond. “The Count on Me NC website gives both locals and day-trippers an outlet to find businesses who care enough about their safety and well-being to go the extra mile to ensure a great customer experience.”