KCMO extends state of emergency, relaxes curfew

Abby Hoover
Managing Editor

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas extended the city’s State of Emergency on Wednesday, Jan. 13, in consultation with Kansas City Health Department (KCHD) Director Dr. Rex Archer and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Medical Director Dr. Erica Carney.

Lucas announced updated COVID-19 safety guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, provided details on the city’s work to vaccinate the community, and announced additional small business assistance by extending deadlines for certain business fees.

The State of Emergency was extended to May 1, 2021. Lucas’s Twelfth Amended Order took effect at 10 p.m. on January 13 and expires contemporaneously with expiration of the State of Emergency, unless extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended in a subsequent order in the interest of public health.

“In early November, COVID-19 cases were rising at a concerning rate, our hospitals were at capacity, and our community was trending in a concerning direction—but, together, we stabilized,” Lucas said. “Thanks to thousands of Kansas City families reimagining this holiday season; changing beloved traditions; and sacrificing travel and time with far-away loved ones to help us get through this difficult moment, we lowered COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths.”

However, Lucas said their work is not done as they are again presented with tough decisions on how to keep the community safe and keep the economy “open.”

“I know our COVID-19 guidelines have saved lives. I also understand regional alignment — creating consistent and concise guidelines so businesses throughout our metro can operate on an equal playing field — is important for continued community compliance,” Lucas said. “While restaurant, tavern, and bar closing hours will push to midnight, the Kansas City government will continue to direct all establishments to strictly adhere to masking, social distancing, and capacity requirements, and will continue to strongly enforce our rules.”

The latest order creates better regional alignment, while continuing strict capacity and social distancing requirements, coupled with Kansas City government utilizing its robust enforcement apparatus, to keep patrons safe.

According to the Order, restaurants, taverns, bars, and all other venues, including wedding and other event spaces, have to close at midnight — moved back from the 10 p.m. deadline of the previous Order — require social distancing between different parties, and limit the number of occupants indoors to no more than 50% of building occupancy.

Both indoor and outdoor patrons at these facilities must be seated, and also masked at all times except when actively eating or drinking. Indoor and outdoor parties are limited to a maximum of 10 people and parties shall be spaced with no less than six feet of distance between themselves and individuals from any other parties.

A new addition, restaurants, taverns, and bars must immediately report known COVID-19 cases to the KCHD.

All indoor gatherings are limited to 10 persons maximum. Masks must be worn in all indoor spaces with more than one person per room, and outdoor spaces where social distancing cannot be maintained. Patrons of gyms, fitness, and recreation centers are required to wear masks at all times, and these establishments are limited to no more than 50 percent capacity.

“January is on track to be one of our busier months regarding COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths,” Carney said. “Although vaccination distribution is underway, our local healthcare workers continue to focus on preventing the spread of COVID-19. We need your continued help in protecting our busy hospitals by decreasing your risk of infection. It remains as important as ever to wear masks, socially distance, and wash your hands frequently.”

Last week, the KCHD received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines. The 975 initial doses will be used primarily to inoculate all healthcare providers who will be responsible for administering the COVID-19 vaccination to the public on behalf of the KCHD, and home-health caretakers and other healthcare workers not affiliated with a hospital or medical group.

“I am pleased that many frontline workers have been inoculated,” Lucas said. “We will continue working to ensure our vaccination process is efficient and equitable, with availability to all, including our underrepresented Black and brown communities. Thank you to all who have sacrificed so much over the past 10 months, particularly those over age 65 and in at-risk groups. We must remain diligent about wearing our masks, avoiding large crowds, and washing our hands. Brighter days are on the horizon.”

Kansas Citians interested in signing up to receive more information about COVID-19 vaccination opportunities should complete an online survey found at kcmo.gov/coronavirus.

In November, Lucas introduced a proposal directing City administrators to review all annual licensing fees that could be deferred, reduced or waived for the City’s service industry and small, locally-owned businesses remaining in compliance with the city’s Emergency COVID-19 Order. On January 14, Lucas introduced a measure that would provide several opportunities for deferred business tax payments and fee waivers.

Following the review, Lucas introduced an ordinance at the January 14 City Council meeting that would provide any Kansas City business with annual revenue less than $2 million the flexibility to defer license tax deadlines until April 30, or 60 days after Kansas City’s State of Emergency is rescinded, whichever is later.

Kansas Citians may submit any COVID-19 order violations to COVIDViolations@kcmo.org, or should call 311. Click here for a full list of FAQs.

Kansas Citians interested in signing up for text updates from the City of Kansas City regarding COVID-19 should text COVIDKC to 888-777. For more information, visit the CDC’s website at cdc.gov/coronavirus or kcmo.gov/coronavirus. You may also call the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services hotline at 877-435-8411 for questions regarding COVID-19 in Missouri.

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