KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly addressed the state Thursday night from Topeka and said that, while challenges remain, her administration has put together a reopening plan that will start on Monday.
The state’s existing stay-at-home order expires at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday. It will be allowed to expire, but Kelly’s re-opening plan calls for the state’s economy to come back in phases.
During her address Thursday, Kelly said her plan rests on four main pillars: ensuring widely available and rapid response COVID-19 testing; protecting the state’s health-care infrastructure; ensuring Kansans have a safe place to quarantine, if needed; and the recruitment of hundreds of workers to help trace the contacts of people who test positive.
Kelly said the plan's first phase will go into effect Monday, which is the same Missouri is broadly allowing for a reopening of its economy.
Although the order will be lifted, the first phase on May 4 still prohibits any gatherings of more than 10 people. People are still encouraged to wear masks in public and stay at least six feet from others.
Employers are asked to continue having employees work from home when possible and travel should be only for essential purposes.
Child care facilities and libraries are allowed to be open, but community centers, entertainment venues for more than 2,000 people and public swimming pools remained closed among other locations.
During phase one, the following activities remain prohibited:
- Fairs, festival, parades and graduations
- Organized sports leagues remain suspended and facilities closed
- Summer camps
The following businesses also are not permitted to open in phase one:
- Bars and nightclubs, excluding current takeout/curbside services
- Indoor leisure spaces
- Fitness centers and gyms
- Personal service businesses, where close contact can't be avoided, including salons and barbers
During the second phase, which would not begin until May 18 at the earliest, the limit on gatherings increases to no more than 30 people. The second phase would lift some restrictions on businesses and activities, allowing bars and nightclubs to open at 50% of fire or building code occupancy.
Casinos in compliance with Kansas Department of Health and Environment guidelines, swimming pools, community centers and most sports facilities would be permitted, including the resumption of tournaments and leagues.
Masks in public, telecommuting and minimal nonessential travel remain the preferred standard.
The final phase would begin no earlier than June 1 and would allow all businesses to be open, but mass gatherings would still be limited to no more than 90 people. Nonessential travel and a return to workplace would no longer be restricted.
Kelly said if all goes well during the next seven weeks, all state-level restrictions could end no sooner than June 15. That determination will be made based on reports from the state health department.
The governor cautioned, however, that the state-level guidelines should be considered the floor, and not the ceiling, as to how local communities react to the pandemic.
“This is not etched in stone,” Kelly said, acknowledging that at some point her administration may need to reconfigure its approach.
Kelly said the plan was designed to provide as much predictability as possible for families and businesses.
Despite trying to offer reassurances, Kelly cautioned that even if everything goes perfectly between now and mid-June, the coronavirus remains unpredictable and more outbreaks are inevitable.
Kelly said the state is still unsure what precautions will need to be made when schools are scheduled to return in August or when voters are scheduled to vote in primary and general elections in August and November.
This is a developing story and will be updated.