Johnson County adopts Phase 3 of state reopening plan as unenforceable recommendation

Tracking Coronavirus

OLATHE, Kan. — Johnson County commissioners today approved Phase 3 of Gov. Laura Kelly’s “Ad Astra” plan as a set of recommendations leaders expect businesses and individuals to follow.

However, the county’s plan is not enforceable by law. After Gov. Kelly shifted responsibility for preventing the spread of the coronavirus to individual counties, Johnson County leaders decided not to impose their own set of restrictions.

A group of Johnson County city leaders opposed that action, noting that the county is now seeing an increase in coroanvirus cases as businesses reopen.

Commissioners approved a plan that expects gatherings to be limited to no more than 45 people and nightclubs and bars to remain closed for the next two weeks.

“I think my recommendation is we need to re-emphasze the guidelines that have been in place… such as social distancing,” Ed Eilert, chairman of the commission, said. “Restaurants can continue to have seating six feet apart, and that employers need to focus on safety of their employees. Such as tele-work, and groups do not congregate within the business.”

Commissioner Mike Brown said Johnson County should be able to trust its citizens to manage themselves through the virus crisis. He argued that new guidance is not needed and has said individual businesses and residents should be able to assess the risks of reopening as they see fit.

“The guidance you’re suggesting implies that the citizens of our county aren’t responsible enough as adults or business owners or as citizens to manage themselves,” Brown told Eilert. “They must have some further guidance in order to function. By issuing further guidance we are creating confusion.”

The action was prompted by concerns of seeing arenas, swimming pools and summer camps opening this week in Johnson County.

Churches are excluded from Johnson County’s recommendations, and the expectations approved are not going to be enforced.

Neighboring Wyandotte and Douglas counties have decided to continue enforcing the governor’s plan.

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