Gov. Parson To Drop All Of Missouri's Coronavirus Restrictions Next Week
Move to fully reopen state comes even as number of positive tests is on the rise.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced Thursday he will allow all businesses in the state to open without restrictions on Tuesday.
“At some point, government has to get out of the way and let people live their lives and regulate their own selves,” Parson said at a press briefing. “We are at that time in the state of Missouri.”
Parson’s move to lift restrictions across the state comes as positive tests for coronavirus outside Missouri’s two major metro areas have risen around 86% since May 10. Statewide, known cases of the virus increased by 54% during that same time period.
Parson did extend the state of emergency declaration until Dec. 30. He said this will allow the state to use federal dollars and send resources statewide as it continues to recover from the deadly virus.
“The health and safety of all Missourians will always be our number-one priority, but as I’ve said many times, COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on our economy,” he said.
Parson is still encouraging social distancing and avoiding large gatherings. He said those who feel comfortable wearing a face covering should do so.
Despite no state-level restrictions, Parson said local officials will still be allowed to create or enforce their own ordinances. He said most leaders “realized people want the state opened back up.”
“I think it’s really important that everybody understands that I didn’t do this without contacting county executives, local leaders and the mayors across the state,” said Parson.
In Kansas City, Mayor Quinton Lucas has allowed businesses to increase their capacity threshold to 50%, and this order will expire on July 5.
A spokesperson for St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said Parson’s announcement does not affect the city’s COVID-19 restrictions. St. Louis County Executive Sam Page could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.
The state Department of Health and Senior Services is currently working on recommendations for nursing homes and long-term care facilities which saw high numbers of deaths from the virus.
The first phase of Parson’s plan to reopen businesses was put in place on May 4. He extended that until June 15. Tuesday will move the state into the second phase of that plan.
Parson said there will definitely be a Missouri State Fair this summer despite surrounding states choosing to cancel. He said his administration is still in the process of planning what the fair will look like because it will have restrictions.
“More than likely, there’s not going to be concerts there,” said Parson. “There may not be a lot of vendors there.”
Addressing protests and race relations
Earlier Thursday, Parson met with young activists who were involved with and led protests across the state following the killing of George Floyd. Parson said this was “an initial meeting” to discuss present issues and how to move forward.
“There were some issues, I want to say, that we’re not going to agree on,” said Parson. “It was a process of starting a conversation to see what we can do and what we can’t do.”
Defunding the police was one issue Parson, a former sheriff, said he will not agree to. He didn’t divulge many details about the meeting but said they also discussed what he can and cannot do as a governor.
“I’m not sure what their take of it was when they went home, but all I know is we agreed to do a follow-up meeting on some things, and we’ll go back and we’ll meet with them at some point.”
Jason Rosenbaum and Brent Jones contributed to this story.