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story.lead_photo.caption Gov. Mike Parson, left, visits with Jefferson City Hy-Vee store director Rod Dolph, right, and assistant store director Darrick Sigwerth, background, Thursday during a visit to the west-side grocery store. The governor and first lady Teresa Parson visited with management while touring the store to see how they have handled multiple aspects of business during this pandemic. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.
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There was another unusual sight at a couple Jefferson City stores Thursday, and it was not limited meat products, shoppers wearing masks or social distancing stickers on the floor.

Gov. Mike Parson and first lady Teresa Parson in the morning visited the Hy-Vee and Orscheln Farm and Home stores in Jefferson City.

Parson later said at his daily briefing at the Capitol he wanted to "kind of see how things were going with the general public, how people were conducting themselves with social distancing, and how the businesses themselves were operating and what standards they were putting in place."

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Monday marked the first day of the planned gradual reopening of the state's economy, following the earlier statewide stay-at-home order amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Social distancing measures to try to keep people 6 feet apart are still in place and will be at least through the end of the month, and employees and many customers were wearing cloth or surgical masks Thursday.

Guidance for businesses and other activities during the first phase of the state's recovery period is available at showmestrong.mo.gov/.

Rod Dolph, store director at the Jefferson City Hy-Vee, told Parson online shopping has increased 300-400 percent, and the company bought 200 structures such as the modified shipping container Parson saw outside the Jefferson City store to handle online orders picked up to avoid contact in the parking lot.

"You're going to see these kinds of business models all over the state, where people are going to try to make sure that the customers' wants and desires are met, and I think this is going to be the new way we're going to do business for a while," Parson said.

He also said he thought it will become more common for people to do things such as have their own gardens or raise chickens.

Teresa said a vegetable garden was planted Wednesday at the Governor's Mansion, with tomatoes, onions, green beans, peppers, zucchini and cucumbers. She said there had been a garden last year as well, but she had not known about it in advance then.

The reason for such adaptations people might make at home is supply chain vulnerabilities exposed by the pandemic, namely infections among workers at meat processing plants that have led to shutdowns and reductions in production.

Dolph said the product is there, but processing is the issue.

Hy-Vee was among the major grocery chains that this week began to limit how much meat customers can purchase; Hy-Vee's limit, effective May 6, is four packages of a combination of fresh beef, ground beef, pork and chicken.

Parson did not venture past the produce section of the Jefferson City store Thursday, but another adaptation was evident — the dining area was closed again, after having been open earlier in the week.

Dolph said the company ultimately decided to keep its dining rooms closed.

At Orscheln, store manager Ron Schuman said outdoor cooking sales have increased a lot: People are "wanting stuff to take up their time."

The store is also offering curbside pickup.

Parson said it will probably take two weeks to a month to really get customers back in stores because consumers have to regain the confidence to go out.

Overall, he said, "I'm proud to say the majority of people we saw out there today were using common sense; they were doing what they were being asked to do. Businesses have really stepped up to protect their employees and protect their customers, and people are starting to re-engage in the economy."

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