Kansas City Metro Businesses Cautiously Look Forward to Reopening, but the Rules Vary Depending on Geographic Location

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Stay-at-home orders are lifting around the Kansas City metropolitan area and non-essential business may soon begin reopening, with some allowed to resume operations as soon as today, May 4, 2020. That said, cities, counties and states are all announcing different dates and the ins and outs of complying with various laws can get confusing for business owners with locations on different sides of the state line — or just different areas of the metro, for that matter. Guidelines are determined by the geographic location of your place of business. We break down the rules surrounding this week’s reopening of non-essential businesses in Kansas City, Missouri, and the states of Kansas and Missouri. We also look ahead to what businesses in Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas and Jackson county in Missouri can expect next week.

Kansas City, Missouri

On April 30, 2020, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas extended the state of emergency until August 15, 2020. However, even with the extension, Mayor Quinton Lucas issued guidelines for a soft reopening of the city in his Fourth Amended Order 20-01 that will take effect on May 6 at 12:10 a.m. Here are the guidelines for Phase One, “Non-Essential Business and Other Non-Essential Operations Soft Opening”:

    1. Essential businesses continue operations in accordance with the previous order.
    2. Non-essential businesses not open to the public are allowed to resume in-person and delivery operations as long as workers are able to practice social distancing when feasible.
    3. Non-essential businesses open to the public, but conducting operations while closed to the public can resume in-person and delivery operations as long as workers are able to practice social distancing when feasible.
    4. Non-essential businesses open to the public and operating in a publicly accessible capacity, like non-essential retail and personal care services, are allowed to reopen as long as they follow the “10/10/10- Rule” — limit the number of customers to no more than 10 persons or 10% building occupancy (whichever is greater), plus maintain a record of time of service for all persons on premises for more than 10 minutes. The 10/10/10 Rule applies to all businesses open to the public. Records of time of service allow adequate public health tracing in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak and must be retained by businesses for 30 days. When social distancing isn’t possible, such is the case for hair salons, barber shops and other personal services, providers must wear masks and gloves at all times. It is recommended customers be asked to wear masks (to the extent possible).
    5. Businesses to remain closed during phase one include in-person dining at restaurants, bars, the Kansas City Zoo, dog parks, movie theaters, public access to government buildings, museums, city-maintained playground equipment and gyms. At this time, it is expected these businesses will be able to reopen starting May 15, as long as they adhere to the 10/10/10 Rule.
    6. Remote work allowed. Non-essential businesses that have previously been allowing employees to work remotely, must continue to allow those workers to do so. Employees at non-essential businesses with health or safety concerns, or who must stay home to care for children may not be required to report to work while the Kansas City order remains in effect.
    7. Refusal of service. Businesses may refuse service to customers who are not wearing masks.

Click here to read the KCMO soft reopen Q&A.

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Johnson County, Kansas

Johnson County, Kansas has been following Governor Kelly’s statewide safer-at-home order, which expired this past Sunday, May 3 at 11:59 p.m., until now. While the order at the state-level has expired, residents in Johnson County will remain under a stay-at-home order for an additional week, now set to expire on Sunday, May 10 at 11:59 p.m. On May 11, businesses may begin gradually reopening.5

Last Friday, the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners voted to follow Governor Laura Kelly’s statewide reopening plan with the exception that Phase One will begin May 11 instead of May 4. Full details for Ad Astra: A Plan to Reopen Kansas can be found in this blog post. 

Wyandotte County, Kansas

Similar to Johnson County, Kansas, Wyandotte has extended their stay-at-home order for an additional week, now set to expire on Sunday, May 10 at 11:59 p.m. Wyandotte County has been one of the hardest hit areas in the state with infection rates four times higher than surrounding communities, like Johnson County and Kansas City, Missouri. A May 11 reopening of non-essential businesses will be dependent upon COVID-19 numbers stabilizing. The Restart WyCo Road to Recovery plan provides a four-phase approach to reopening non-essential businesses. Currently, business owners are in phase one — stay-at-home, only essential businesses open. Following the stay-at-home order (phase one) are red, yellow and green zones that outline how the county plans to reopen, but firm dates have not been assigned to the various zones at this time. To find out which zone correlates with your business’ industry, read the Restart WYCO document here.   

In a statement last week, KCK Mayor Alvey said, “What’s going to drive the decision to step down from the stay-at-home order is going to be the data that demonstrates that we are halting the spread of the virus and we will not be overwhelming our public health system.” 

Jackson County, Missouri

Jackson County, Missouri, with the exception of the city of Kansas City, Missouri, has aligned with Johnson and Wyandotte counties for extending their stay-at-home order until Monday, May 11 at 12:01 a.m., at which time non-essential businesses may begin gradually reopening. According to County Administrator Troy Schulte, private businesses will be allowed to reopen so long as they adhere to “certain guidelines related to social distancing and supplying employees with PPE.” Additionally, the county’s reopening plan is expected to include guidelines for “contact tracing and increased testing.” 

The county will release phase one of their plan this week so businesses can begin to prepare.

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State of Kansas

Governor Kelly has allowed her “Safer at Home” order to expire effective May 4 and phase one of “Ad Astra: A Plan to Reopen Kansas” will begin. Here’s when and what to expect during the four stages of Kansas’ reopening:

  1. Phase One Starts May 4: During phase one, non-essential businesses may begin reopening. 
    1. Encourage Remote Work: Employers should encourage remote work when possible. 
    2. Avoid Gatherings of employees in groups of more than 10 people. Businesses not excluded from reopening may resume operations if gatherings of 10 or more individuals can be avoided. This does not place a limit on total occupancy, but rather requires 6 feet of distance to be maintained, including individual workstations. Particular attention should be paid to break rooms, tables, lobbies and checkout areas.
    3. Restaurants and Dining Establishments: Restaurants and dining establishments may reopen in phase one if they can meet social distancing requirements including 6 feet of distance between tables. Physical barriers may be used between booths and no parties larger than 10 may dine together.
    4. Businesses Required to Remain Closed During Phase One (May 4): Bars and nightclubs (unless they have curbside or carryout services), theaters, museums, non-tribal casinos, indoor leisure spaces (i.e., trampoline parks and arcades), fitness centers and gyms, personal service businesses where close contact cannot be avoided (i.e., nail salons, barber shops, hair salons, tanning salons, tattoo parlors).
    5. Cleaning: Fundamental cleaning and public health practices specific to individual business’ industries must be followed.
  2. Phase Two Starts No Sooner Than May 18: Remaining non-essential businesses may open if they meet the following criteria.
    1. Encourage Remote Work.
    2. Avoid Gatherings of employees in groups of more than 30. Continue to phase-in employees to the worksite while maintaining 6 feet between individual workstations. Gathering of employees where social distancing cannot be maintained must be limited to 30 employees. 
    3. Restaurants and Dining Establishments must continue to maintain 6 feet of distance between tables. 
    4. Bars and Nightclubs: Bars and nightclubs may reopen at 50% total occupancy if they meet social distancing, mass gathering and cleaning guidelines.
  3. Phase Three: No sooner than June 1. In phase three, on-site staffing is unrestricted for employers.
    1. Remote Work can be phased out. 
    2. Avoid Gatherings of 90 Individuals. Gatherings where social distancing cannot be maintained must be limited to 90 employees. Social distancing of 6 feet of space must be maintained between individual workstations.
    3. Business Travel. Non-essential business travel is permitted.
  4. Phase Out: No sooner than June 15. Mass gathering limitations will be significantly eased; however, all businesses will be required to follow state guidelines for mass gatherings once released. Once in “Phase Out”, the governor will issue guidelines to let businesses and the general public know what needs to happen in order for all restrictions to be lifted.

State of Missouri

Governor Parsons released his statewide plan for phase one of reopening the state that took effect at 12:01 a.m. on May 4, 2020, and shall remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. on May 31; however, local governments may have stricter guidelines in place that supersede the state plan, including KCMO and STL. Here are the guidelines for phase one:

  1. Phase One: May 4 - May 31.
    1. Social Distancing of 6 feet or more between workers must be maintained at businesses. This provision does not apply to individuals who perform job duties that require direct contact with people less than 6 feet away (i.e., individuals standing in lines and individuals using shared indoor or outdoor spaces).
    2. Non-Essential Retail Businesses with less than 10,000 square feet of space are required to limit visitors to 25% or less of fire or building code occupancy. For those with more than 10,000 square feet of physical space, visitors must be limited to 10% or less of fire or building code occupancy.
    3. Restaurants are permitted to provide dine-in services as long as the following guidelines are followed: 6 feet physical distance between tables, no communal tables, no tables with more than 10 people. Restaurants are advised, but not required, to limit services to drive-thru, delivery or pickup throughout phase one.

Stay-tuned to our blog for more information, as it becomes available, for businesses reopening in Jackson County, Missouri and Wyandotte, Kansas. 


Jeanette Coleman

Written by Jeanette Coleman