More than 60% of waiver requests for events with over 10 people get approval in Kansas City

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — More than half of those who have applied to hold large events in Kansas City have gotten approval from the health department, records show.

The Kansas City Health Department has approved 63% of the requests for waivers to the city’s latest COVID-19 restrictions that limit gatherings to no more than 10, according to records obtained by FOX4.

As of Dec. 3, records show 296 organizations and individuals have applied for waivers to hold such events as weddings, rehearsal dinners, funerals and athletic tournaments and games since Mayor Quinton Lucas’ 11th emergency order went into effect in late November.

Of that number, the health department:

  • Approved 187 requests.
  • Denied 26 requests.
  • Has 23 pending requests that need more information.
  • Has 13 requests under review.
  • Had 47 requests withdrawn.

According to city records, a two-day gun show at KCI’s Expo Center was the largest event that received a waiver.

“They had 5,000 visitors throughout the event, not all at the same time,” said Michelle Pekarsky, public information officer for the Kansas City Health Department. “They submitted a plan that included a counter at the front door to make sure crowds didn’t get too large.”

Other large events the health department approved included an Agape Hoops tournament, a Tulsa basketball game and two gymnastic competitions.

Pekarsky said applicants who received waivers often had to modify their plan to provide for better social distancing, reduce their crowd sizes, allow for more spacing between tables or change their food service from a buffet to restaurant-style dining.

The health department also required waiver applicants to submit a COVID-19 response plan and ensure the events had enough hand-washing stations for the crowd sizes.

What about compliance with the city’s mask mandate? Who was responsible for enforcing that action at these events?

“It is the event planner’s responsibility to ensure compliance,” Pekarsky told FOX4.

When asked why the health department rejected 26 waivers, Pekarsky said: “They were denied because they could not make the changes they needed to make (social distancing, crowd size, etc.).”

The types of events the health department denied varied from a wedding in a small banquet hall – in which the applicant wanted 150 guests – to concerts, sports tournaments and other special events, Pekarsky said. 

More information about the waiver application process is available on the city’s website.

Kansas City’s latest COVID-19 restrictions remain in effect until Jan. 16, 2021. The city, however, said it regularly evaluates those restrictions and can modify them based on guidance from public health officials.

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