Social distancing in bars, other areas among concerns for Mayor, KDHE secretary

mayor quinton lucas
Posted at 12:44 PM, Mar 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-15 21:42:30-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Crowds still are showing up in entertainment districts like Westport.

On Saturday night, some bars were packed with people still going out. It brought concern from people like Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas.

41 Action News spoke to Lucas about this problem.

"I would ask responsible restaurant and bar owners to make sure that they are not going at max capacity," Lucas said. "Go with half of the crowd something like that. I understand this is a struggle and this is a tough time, but we all have to be in this together."

Sunday night, Lucas announced that no gatherings or events with 50 or more people would "be allowed" through mid-May. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson also said Sunday night that his administration would "strongly urge" gatherings and events of that size also be canceled.

In Jackson County, that number is 250 or more prohibited to gather. Lucas said those restrictions could be changed.

"We'll evaluate every option on the table, up to and including doing a mandatory restriction on occupancy inside restaurants, bars, businesses," Lucas said, "but also considering if we get to that point whether we need to do mandatory closures."

Dr. Lee Norman, Kansas Department Health and Environment secretary, advised bars to keep a watchful eye on crowd size as they urge people to stay a distance from each other.

"Even if they get the bug and it's not that bad, they can give it and have it be lethal to their grandparents," Norman said.

The crowd size shocked some bar owners as they try to figure out how to handle the influx of customers.

"We were honestly really surprised with the amount of people that came out," said Westport bar owner Brett Allred. "We're running a lot less people in the bars than we typically do to try and create some social distancing, but that's hard to achieve too, so that even resulted in longer lines."

Allred told 41 Action News his biggest concern is his staff on how they are feeling and asked them to stay home if they do not feel comfortable or sick.

As for St. Patrick's Day on Tuesday, many bar owners are trying to figure out how to handle the crowds.

"We have no idea what to expect for St. Patrick's Day," Allred said.