Johnson County slowly reopening as shoppers, businesses take precautions


OLATHE, Kan. — Johnson County, Kansas, businesses are beginning to reopen, but not all of them are choosing to do so.

It’s certainly feeling like a slow start to the county’s reopening process. While some of the essential businesses like grocery and hardware stores remain really busy, at nonessential stores now allowed to reopen, many still seem rather cautious.

As Johnson County businesses slowly reopen their doors, some shoppers who were out Monday were eager to get things back to normal.

“I actually called, and they were like, ‘Yes, we are open.’ I’m like, ‘Oh! Thank you! Thank you,” shopper Hannah Whittington said.

Cathy Short and her daughter Carrie were able to pick up a few good finds at Five Below in Olathe, one of only a handful of stores that opened back up the shopping center near 119th and Black Bob.

“There are still so many places not open that it’s hard to know where to go. We started driving around like, please! We need some retail therapy,” Short said.

While Short said she’s thankful to help stimulate the economy, she’s also a nurse and is very mindful about the threat COVID-19 still brings. That’s why she is choosing to wear a mask in public.

“I feel like it’s so important to protect ourselves and others and social distance and all the things we need to do to be responsible when we’re out,” she said.

Whittington and her friend Elizabeth Griffis both have underlying health issues. But neither said they’re worried about getting out and about.

They’re grateful to see stores taking extra precautions to keep them safe.

“There’s Plexiglas up on every store we’ve went to, gloves and masks. It’s definitely different,” Griffis said. “They have it marked on the ground where you can stand and can’t stand and how far to be apart. There’s hand sanitizer everywhere.”

They’re looking forward to seeing even more stores get back up and running soon, but they agree with the guidelines state and local governments are issuing. They don’t think any business should attempt to skirt those rules.

“If you’re not supposed to open your business, I wouldn’t be opening them up. And if they are open, I do believe they should be punished,” Griffis said.

That’s something Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is now considering: what, if any, penalty should be issued to stores or customers who violate the state’s emergency order. 

Johnson County told FOX4 that for now, anyone with concerns about a business operating that shouldn’t be can report it to the police by calling the department’s non-emergency line.

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