What does it mean if you see a COVID-SAFE sticker at a Meck County business?

CHARLOTTE — The next time you visit a local business in Mecklenburg County, you might see a special sticker plastered on the window.

On Wednesday, the Board of Commissioners voted to let Mecklenburg County’s state of emergency expire alongside the state’s -- on Aug. 15. The state of emergency was originally declared in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

But the health department still wants to make sure people feel safe, especially at local businesses like Mert’s Heart And Soul, a restaurant in uptown Charlotte.

“We’re still going back to wearing our masks now since the surge is going up,” said Shay Williams, a shift lead manager at Mert’s.

The restaurant is one of 80 businesses across Mecklenburg County that’s certified under the health department’s new COVID-SAFE training program. It includes safety measures similar to the ones we saw at the start of the pandemic, like masks and sanitizing.

But the health department’s Autumn Watson says it also includes a template of health policies that smaller businesses can implement for employees.

“The last thing a business wants is a COVID-19 outbreak that wipes out all their staff,” she said.

The online training takes about four hours to complete. It’s filled with facts and data about the disease and how it’s spread. Once it’s done, businesses will receive special stickers acknowledging their participation and commitments to safety.

Williams says one key item from the course stands out to her.

“If you have the symptoms, do not come in,” she said.

It may seem like a lot of effort for a small sticker, but Williams hopes it serves as a reminder to her customers -- and her community -- that COVID-19 isn’t over.

“We’re trying our best to make sure we’re keeping our servers safe and our guests safe as well,” Williams said.

The health department says it used resources and materials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to create the training. It didn’t use any additional funding.

If you’d like to register or learn more about the COVID-SAFE training program, click here.

(WATCH BELOW: Biden administration plans updated COVID-19 boosters in September)