KCMO slowly reopens, some establishments aren't rushing

Bier Station during coronavirus closure
Posted at 8:56 PM, May 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-05 23:58:33-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — While some businesses are eager to reopen their doors, others want more guidance to protect their employees and customers.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said in a press conference on Tuesday that the "bottom line" is employees have to return to work "if it's safe to go back to work."

But at Bier station, the governor's words are easier said than done.

"Most of our staff is mainly still concerned about their own health and the health of our customers," John Couture, owner of Bier Station, said. "Honestly, I think a lot of people are just still fearful about coming in too soon."

The beer bar was among the first in the Kansas City, Missouri, area at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic to offer curbside and delivery service. They've stuck to it.

"We care about our staff as people that are friends, and we would never force them to come back if they don't feel safe," Couture said.

As Kansas City, Missouri, prepares to reopen under the Mayor Quinton Lucas' "10-10-10" plan, some bars and restaurants are waiting it out.

"We’re probably not going to open with 10% because it's, it's just not worth it for us as a business to try to staff for 10%," Couture said.

The feeling is mutual at Dodson's Bar, located at West 75th Street and Wornall Road.

"When having only less than a handful of guests be in your establishment, it kind of makes it very, very tough to be able to run the place efficiently," Eric Jones, Dodson's general manager, told 41 Action News.

Jones said he believes the constant tweaks and various reopening plans across the metro have overwhelmed some employers and workers.

"We want to make sure that they're protected," Jones said. "We want to make sure that they're safe and well. What happens if they were to get sick? What happens if we were to get sick?"

It's those questions that have kept labor and employment attorneys like Brian Woolley, a partner at Lathrop GPM, busy.

"Usually, what we tell our clients is if you've got a choice among different kinds of restrictions, pick the one that's the most protective of your employees because you can't really go wrong that way," Woolley said.

He also advised that employers run through possible scenarios ahead of opening their doors.

"So you can take the best response in a way that tries to protect people and not just react at the spur of the moment," Woolley said.

Unless contact tracing improves, experts said it's going to be difficult for someone to prove exactly where they contracted the virus to try to sue a place of business.