Local News

Durham educating businesses on reopening safely to persuade consumers to get 'Back on the Bull'

Posted June 29, 2020 8:12 p.m. EDT

— Restaurants and businesses are reopening, but many people are still hesitant to visit them. So, Durham officials are launching an effort to provide consumers with needed information – and hopefully confidence.

The "Back on the Bull" campaign features a website that will go live this week to help businesses know best practices for public health in their specific industry and help consumers know which businesses have committed to following those practices.

"It’s not just about lifting the restrictions. It’s not just about reopening. Consumer confidence is going to be really key," said Ryan Smith, staff director for Durham's Recovery and Renewal Task Force. "I think a lot of residents are still concerned about how safe it is and want to know what steps businesses are taking to create spaces that are safe for them to come back into."

Smith said the website will be a hub for resources. Businesses can print out eye-catching signs encouraging hand washing and mask wearing, as well as lists of steps they've taken to ensure customer safety, which they can post near their front doors.

"Transparency can help build trust, so we really want to make it transparent for local Durham residents what a business is doing that really can help them feel more confident going back into that space," said Mariel Beasley, a principal with the Center for Advanced Hindsight, a behavioral science research lab at Duke University, who is assisting in the effort.

"We know that everyone has limited attention, which means that it’s really easy to forget even important details," Beasley said. "So, we really look at how do we make it easy for businesses to also follow through on the things that they should be doing around sanitation, around limiting capacity and the like.

"Small tools, like a checklist, can dramatically increase the effectiveness of those things," she added. "[We want] to make it easier for them to adhere and to make it easier for them to access the things that they need to access in order to adhere."

The effort is similar, but more far-reaching than the Count on Me NC certification the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association has been offering to eateries statewide since early May.

The Back on the Bull website also will include lists of every business that has gone through the effort so people can see who's committed to safe practices during the pandemic.

"You can actually click on it and see the full list of things that business has committed to do," Smith said.

Anika Beckford, who was visiting Durham on Monday, said she thinks it’s important that people be able to trust where they are spending their money.

"Wherever you want to spend your money, you want to make sure that they’re making sure that the customer is getting the best treatment and the best safety," Beckford said.

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