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Here Is What People Can And Can't Do As Johnson And Wyandotte Counties Begin To Gradually Reopen

051120_Downtown OP_Zeff.jpg
Sam Zeff
Restaurants and many other mom-and-pop stores in downtown Overland Park will be allowed to open Monday, May 11, with some restrictions still in place.

The two counties, which have registered some of the highest COVID-19 case totals in Kansas, waited an extra week to lift some restrictions on going out in public.

Johnson and Wyandotte Counties begin to gradually reopen their economies on Monday, May 11, following weeks of stringent stay-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

They follow Kansas City, Missouri, which began allowing some non-essential businesses to reopen Wednesday, May 6.

Read KCUR’s “Here’s What People Can Do – And Not Do – In Kansas City, Missouri, As Stay-At-Home Order Partially Lifts”

Health officers in Johnson and Wyandotte counties said they thought a May 11 start date was safer for their communities. They still are strongly urging people who are out and about to wear cloth masks in public settings.

Johnson County is mostly following Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s phased approach in reopening statewide, while Wyandotte County is taking a more restrictive approach.

Johnson County

In Johnson County, here are some of the places that residents and customers can start to visit that they couldn’t before. You can read the county’s reopening plan here.

  • Offices such as law firms and advertising agencies that don’t usually serve the public can open with social distancing among workers.
  • Restaurants can offer dine-in service for parties of 10 or fewer people but tables must be at least 6 feet apart.
  • Farmers markets are allowed, with social distancing.
  • Retail stores such as clothing and gift shops can serve shoppers, with social distancing.
  • Churches can hold services with more than 10 people but social distancing is required between families.
  • The motor vehicle offices in Olathe and Mission are open on a limited basis, but reservations are required. (You can make them here in order to secure a place in line.) Still, the county strongly urges patrons to conduct as much business online as possible.
  • The New Century and Executive airports are also open as of Monday, May 11.

However, here are the things you still can’t do:

  • Visit a bar or nightclub except for curbside or carryout.
  • Get a haircut or a massage.
  • Visit a gym, library, playground or community center.
  • Attend a theater or other indoor entertainment venue.

Those types of businesses can’t open at least until May 18 under Kansas’ reopening plan. That second phase depends on virus data trends improving.

Johnson County Library is also developing a phased reopening plan and more information will be at the Library’s website.

051120_KCK Cupcakes_Ziegler.JPG
Laura Ziegler
Businesses like this family owned cupcake store in downtown Kansas City, Kansas, have been closed to dine-in business since the shutdown started in mid-March.

Wyandotte County

Wyandotte County has a more gradual plan for reopening. The details can be read here.

In the first phase, most people are still urged to stay at home as much as possible. Here are some important details:

  • Offices, manufacturing and logistical businesses can open with social distancing among workers and customers.
  • No dine-in restaurant service is allowed and farmers markets are discouraged. Carry out and curbside service are allowed with 6-foot social distancing, as are food trucks.
  • Hotels and motels can operate at no more than 25% capacity.
  • Church services, including weddings and funerals, can only accommodate 10 percent of capacity as determined by the fire marshal, and personal greetings are discouraged.

As in Johnson County, many businesses and functions will remain closed in the first phase, including haircare places, gyms, community centers, libraries, museums and entertainment venues.

In Wyandotte County, elective dental procedures are discouraged for now.

Government offices remain closed although people can do various services online, including vehicle titling and registration. More information is at the Unified Government’s website.

Lynn Horsley is a freelance writer in Kansas City. Follow her on Twitter @LynnHorsley.

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