Jackson County’s rules on gatherings and how many people can be inside a business are to be eased slightly starting Monday.
The office of County Executive Frank White Jr. says the new rules are expected to run through June 15, an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19. This is the second of at least four anticipated phases of looser rules following several weeks of a stay-at-home order under which people were told to go out only for groceries, medical care and other essentials, and only essential businesses were supposed to be open.
The final phase would be a “return to normal” and would only kick in when a “vaccine or advanced therapeutic” is readily available to the public, according to the county’s guidance. A vaccine is considered months if not years away.
Also, measures such as Gov. Mike Parson’s social-distancing order – stay six feet away – and the CDC’s recommendation that anyone going out wear a face mask remain in effect. Some businesses and other organizations are requiring face masks.
“When able, please stay at home and avoid unnecessary travel,” the county says at the top of its list of “guiding principles” for the new order. Others include frequent hand washing and staying home if you think you have COVID-19 symptoms.
Under the county’s phase two, June 1 rules, which are for all of the county outside Kansas City, are:
• Retail stores have to limit those inside to 25 percent of rated capacity, or 10 percent based on square footage. That’s in line with Gov. Parson’s statewide order. The capacity limit is expected to rise to 50 percent on June 15.
• Gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed.
• Houses of worship and non-essential businesses can have up to 50 percent of their lowest occupancy load. The 50-percent limit also applies to weddings and funerals.
• K-12 schools remain closed, but higher education campuses can reopen with limits.
• Playgrounds remain closed. There are no parades, festivals or fairs.
• Graduations, organized sports and overnight summer camps can resume with limits.
• Theaters, community centers, “interior leisure venues” and swimming pools can reopen with limits.
The county also lists a series of recommendations. Those are:
• Staying at home remains the safest option.
• All persons (older than 2) should wear a mask when possible.
• All persons should practice social distancing and remain 6 feet apart.
• Employers should allow for telework for as many workers as possible.
• Employers should provide personal protective equipment if possible for workers who engage with the public and/or work in otherwise high-risk environments where social distancing is not feasible.
• Continued testing to monitor disease prevalence and determine if a spike in new infections is occurring.
• Possibility that restrictions will need to be re-imposed if there is a large spike in new infections.