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Kansas Citians Will Be Able To Eat In Restaurants Starting Friday, With Restrictions In Place

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Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3
On Monday, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas announced guidelines for restaurants to reopen starting Friday.

Mayor Quinton Lucas said he worked with the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association to develop the guidelines for reopening.

Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas says restaurants can open Friday, as long as they take certain precautions to protect staff and customers from the new coronavirus.

Among other things, restaurants will be asked to keep ten feet of distance between tables and six feet of social distancing between parties, including those seated at booths.

The guidelines also say patrons who exhibit symptoms should not be allowed to dine, and employees exhibiting symptoms should not be allowed to work.

"We will continue to balance public health and economic needs of our community as we continue our road to recovery," Lucas said in a prepared statement.

In a press conference at City Hall Monday, Lucas said COVID-19 remains a significant threat in Kansas City.

"And as we have conversations about reopening, we need to actually understand that that doesn't just mean reopening and forgetting all the work that we've done up to this point," Lucas said.

The new guidelines for restaurants take effect Friday, May 15 at 12:01 a.m. and will stay in effect through at least Sunday, May 31.

The mayor’s reopening plan, so far, has allowed businesses to operate as long as they limit the number of customers inside to 10 people or 10% of capacity. Lucas said he developed the guidelines for restaurants after extensive conversations with the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association, which said opening at 10% was unrealistic.

Under the guidelines unveiled Monday, bar seating will not be allowed, nor will buffet-style food service. All employees will be required to wear protective face coverings while in open areas of the restaurant and all dining surfaces must be cleaned and sanitized between customers.

Bars and taverns that only offer bar seating will have to make accommodations to offer seating with groups of chairs or tables six feet apart. Additionally, all patrons are to be seated when eating or drinking.

Restaurants are encouraged to keep a log of all customers who spend more than 10 minutes inside the establishment. Those logs should be kept for at least 30 days.

Lucas said that restaurants found not to be in compliance with the guidelines could face fines. Though he stressed that no business owners would be arrested for not following the guidelines.

David Lopez, general manager of Manny's Restaurant, said the past few weeks have been rough for restaurants owners and particularly hard on restaurant employees. His restaurant has been doing carry-out service during the stay-at-home order.

He plans to reopen Tuesday, May 19, and while he won't be able to bring his entire staff back immediately, he's excited to get about 20% of his employees back to work. In the meantime, he'll hold special training for a smaller group of employees on how service will work once they reopen.

"It's exciting but its a cautious excitement," Lopez said. "We have to be safe. It's really easy to dehumanize this by looking at stats and numbers and graphs and flattening of the curves, but these are people. These are lives and we have to be careful with them because they're very valuable."

Lopez says among other precautions, they'll encourage customers to bring up a menu on their phones using a bar code to limit the touching of surfaces.

Lucas' announcement Monday comes as the city is still monitoring several clusters of COVID-19

Lucas announced last week that the health department is testing residents at the McCrite Plaza at Briarcliff senior living facility in the Northland, after the facility's health care staff notified the health department of several positive cases.

Earlier in the week, the Kansas City health department said that it received names of about 60 Kansas City residents among the 412 workers who tested positive at the Triumph Foods plant in St. Joseph.

“We continue to encourage all Kansas Citians to limit non-essential outings, to wear masks while in public and to maintain social distancing,” Lucas said in a statement.

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