GIRARD — Unless a statewide stay-at-home order is extended or local control of COVID-19 policy is otherwise superseded by higher-level authorities, decisions about restrictions in response to the coronavirus crisis are likely to revert to county governments by the end of this week. On Tuesday, Crawford County officials met for a work session to discuss what a less restrictive policy will most likely look like.
If the stay-at-home order is not extended, the new county order is expected to go into effect May 4 and allow most businesses to reopen, as long as they continue to take precautions to limit the spread of coronavirus such as maintaining social distancing.
County Health Officer Rebecca Adamson presented a draft of a new county order to replace Gov. Laura Kelly’s stay-at-home order, which is planned to be less restrictive than either Kelly’s current order or the previous county order that Kelly’s superseded. The draft was based on sources such as federal guidance, other Kansas counties’ coronavirus policies, and recommendations from Johns Hopkins University, Adamson said, adding that Gov. Kelly may release her own “guidance document” with additional recommendations later in the week.
The county policy has not yet been approved and officials will be taking additional input on the proposed order, including during a “town hall” event planned for 11 a.m. Thursday on radio station KRPS (89.9 FM) in coordination with Pittsburg State University.
In addition to county officials, some others attended the Tuesday work session, including Rep. Monica Murnan (D-Pittsburg), who said she was impressed with Adamson’s leadership of the health department during the coronavirus crisis.
“Many counties are meeting today, and they have nothing like this,” Murnan said. “They’re going to stay all day saying ‘What if? What if?’ And using the science and using good information and resources is what has gotten us to this point in Crawford County thus far, that we’ve mitigated potential damage.”
In response to a question from Commissioner Tom Moody, Adamson said in the first two weeks following the expiration of the statewide stay-at-home order, businesses such as restaurants and bars should try to limit the number of people in the business to ten or less. After that two weeks, however, Adamson hopes that while the limit of ten people for “mass gatherings” will remain in place for events, it will not apply to the number of customers in restaurants or bars, she said, as long as those businesses can maintain 6-foot social distancing within the business.
“In-restaurant dining is allowed but they must adhere to social distancing guidelines,” Adamson said. Families and groups that come in together can sit together, she said, but must maintain social distancing from other customers.
Retail businesses will also be allowed to reopen, with restrictions on the number of people in the store.
“Depending upon the square footage of the businesses each retailer must limit the number of customers in the store at any given time to ensure that the 6-foot social distancing requirement can be met,” the county’s new draft policy states. “If the store reaches its capacity, customers should be admitted on a ‘1-out-1-in’ basis.” There are a number of other guidelines for retail businesses, including providing hand sanitizer and shopping cart sanitation.
In cases of businesses whose employees can work from home, the county government is still recommending that they do so. In cases where employees will be returning to offices, the county is recommending staggering shifts and employees will still be required to maintain social distancing, Adamson said.
“It is still recommended that all employees wear masks if at all possible,” Adamson said.
For personal services businesses such as salons, barber shops, massage therapists, and pet grooming businesses, among others, services may be provided by appointment only and both service providers and customers must wear masks, according to the draft policy.
To find out more about how the draft plan for reopening the local economy may affect you or your business, visit www.crawfordcountykansas.org to read the draft document in full.