Kansas City Missouri Mayor Quinton Lucas revealed the next phase of reopening the city in a press conference held Monday, May 11, which included the opening of non-essential businesses, parks, playgrounds, dog parks, youth activities and daycare-related activities.
Kansas City currently has 730 cases of COVID-19 and the greater Kansas City metropolitan area has roughly 3,000.
“What that means for all of us is that we have to stay vigilant, we have to make sure we are following all the advice that we’ve had, and as we have conversations about reopening, we need to understand that that doesn’t mean just reopening and forgetting all the work that we’ve done up to this point,” said Mayor Lucas. “We have to make sure that we are maintaining social distancing.”
The guidelines announced Monday will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, May 15, and will remain in place through at least Sunday, May 31.
Mayor Lucas announced that all non-essential businesses will be able to open as of Friday, May 15, but must continue to comply with the 10/10/10 rule previously discussed.
The order still has a limit on gatherings of 10 people inside or 10 percent of the capacity of a building, 50 persons outside subject to social distancing.
Restaurants will also be allowed to open and will be subject to a distancing requirement as the capacity requirement is removed.
The full list of restaurant requirements are:
Patrons who are exhibiting symptoms should not be allowed to dine.
Employees who are exhibiting symptoms shall not be allowed to work.
All patrons are to be seated while eating and/or drinking. Ten-foot distancing shall be maintained between tables, except when bench seating is fixed, and six-foot social distancing shall be maintained between different parties, as measured from back of chair to back of chair. This includes booths, which may necessitate closing off every other booth space in certain layouts.
Bar seating is not permitted at this time.
Buffet style food service is not permitted. In addition, all self-service food operations are not permitted.
All employees are required to wear protective face coverings when in all areas open to the public.
All dining surfaces, including tables, chairs and highchairs must be cleaned and sanitized between customers.
Cleaning and sanitizing of frequently touched surfaces like doors, door handles, service counters, restrooms and waiting areas must be completed at a minimum of every 90 minutes.
Patio and outside dining service is allowed with social distancing of six feet between parties; however, no food preparation may take place outside the City-permitted kitchen.
Restaurants must adhere to all requirements set forth in the Kansas City Missouri Food Code, including handwashing frequency, employee health guidelines and proper sanitization of surfaces.
Restaurants are encouraged to continue carry-out, delivery and drive-thru services if feasible, to minimize contact among people.
Restaurants are strongly encouraged to maintain a log of all customers who spend more than 10 minutes seated at the establishment. Logs are to be kept for 30 days at the establishment before discarding/deleting. Log records will be kept confidential and will only be used to aid efforts to notify customers and staff about potential COVID-19 exposure.
Patrons of restaurants are encouraged to wear protective face coverings while in the restaurant unless seated at a table.
Single-service menus that can be thrown away after one use are encouraged, but if cost-prohibitive, all menus are to be cleaned and sanitized between every customer.
When asked about how these will be enforced, Mayor Lucas had this to say:
“As a lawyer myself and as a lawyer who has worked in negligence cases before, there is a doctrine known as a ‘standard of care.’ If government issues a regulation and businesses just thwart them or don’t follow them, and then there is a subsequent outbreak where lots of people get sick, I would think that business puts itself into some level of exposure for violating that standard of care in any given situation.”
Mayor Lucas said the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department will work on opening up parks, playgrounds, and other facilities.
“The next thing I want to note is just how serious times still are,” said Mayor Lucas. “There is a significant conversation right now about reopening. While reopening is certainly part of our narrative and our discourse, we have to understand why we are actually here right now. It’s because COVID remains a significant threat, it remains a challenge for too many in our community.”
Referencing the Chiefs kickoff date of Sept. 10, 2020, Mayor Lucas said steps have to be taken to make it possible.
“The way we actually get to that point of an NFL season, a full Arrowhead Stadium, full events, full activities, is if we get it right now, if we are stopping the spread of COVID-19 now, if we are stopping the spread. That’s why we have to make sure we are still strict now, that’s why we have to make sure that we are working our best to get it right.
Mayor Lucas said the reasoning behind having the stay-at-home order elapse on Friday, May 15 is due to a few reasons.
First, looking to the spike from last week, many of the cases were tracked or related to a few of the larger outbreaks and are not broad community spread with no specific origin.
“The gravest threat that we see during this phase is if there is broad community spread and we don’t know where those cases are coming from. Right now, we don’t believe that to be the case in Kansas City.”
Second, Mayor Lucas said resources are being added daily to tackle COVID-19 including paying for and funding more testing and tracing.
Third, Mayor Lucas said Kansas City does not live on an island.
“I recognize that my friends in Platte, Clay, and Cass counties opened up largely May 4 with fewer restrictions than we will probably have even after this. Our friends on the Kansas side are opening up at different stages and Jackson County is doing the same as well. We are going to make sure that as we reopen in Kansas City, we are always looking at what is the best possible public health guidance that we can provide.”
Mayor Lucas said ultimately, concern for fellow members of the Kansas City community should be top of mind.
“What we want to make clear to people is that these guidelines should be followed first, because you care about your fellow human being in this community and being healthy and safe, but then next, they are actually, in some ways I think, fairly reasonable steps that allow us to open later.”
For more details or to see a FAQ list of reopening guidelines, click here.