KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A revised COVID-19 emergency order is set to take effect Friday in Kansas City, Missouri. It removes capacity limits and scales back the mask requirement in some instances.
Mayor Quinton Lucas announced the update Monday during a press conference.
"We are going back to the type of order that we saw in the mid-summer of 2020," Lucas said.
Under the new order, masks will still be required in indoor public spaces unless it can be confirmed that everyone in the room has been fully vaccinated. That would apply mostly to workplaces.
However, there will no longer be capacity or social distancing regulations in those spaces. Restaurant and bar patrons will not have to be seated any longer while in the building.
"The requirement for folks to be seated within restaurants is rescinded," Lucas said. "Other requirements relating to certain capacity limits, like the number of folks that are in certain establishments, are rescinded as well."
The changes are welcome news for restaurant owners, who were already planning to make changes. changes are already underway.
"Most people are on board that, if you are outside, used to be you had to have your mask on at all times if you left your table," John Couture, Owner of Bier Station in Waldo, said. :I think now that we are all vaccinated, we feel comfortable letting people keep their mask off outside."
Masking does remain a requirement in those public spaces if people are within six feet of one another.
The new order will run through 12:01 a.m. on Friday, May 28.
"We’re proud of the fact that our vaccination efforts in Kansas City continue to have strong energy," Lucas said. "I actually hope this is our last order."
Lucas said that 62% of Kansas Citians over age 65 and 23.6% of all Kansas City adults have been fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, 73% of people over 65 and 33% of all adult residents have initiated vaccination.
Lucas encouraged employers to push vaccinations but said he will not be creating a requirement, like a vaccine passport.
With respect to vaccine hesitancy, Lucas said that since one-third of the population is vaccinated and another one-third is hesitant to receive a vaccine, the city's focus will be on making vaccines accessible to that middle one-third of people who are willing to get vaccinated but haven't yet for a variety of reasons.
Bier Station still plans to err on the side of caution when it comes to allowing customers inside despite the easing restrictions, but hope this is another important step toward returning to pre-pandemic normalcy.
"I am very supportive of this," Couture said. "I think if we can do it reasonably and still make some progress, I am happy for that."
Lucas also extended the city's emergency proclamation until Aug. 31 to align with what Missouri Gov. Mike Parson issued.
The KCMO mayor said he hopes that relaxing some of the requirements will help some of the small businesses that have been struggling through the pandemic.
Lucas also expressed anger about how Congress handed out COVID-19 aid money, giving it to counties instead of the city since its population is less than 500,000. He said KCMO, which is located in a part of four counties, has struggled to get the CARES Act money it needs from Cass, Clay, Jackson and Platte counties.
A different distribution system would have allowed KCMO to meet its needs faster and more completely, especially with respect to small businesses in the city.