Kansas Gov. Kelly’s order limits gatherings but allows restaurants, bars and more to stay open

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TOPEKA, Kan. — Governor Laura Kelly has signed an order that limits the number of people at gatherings where social distancing is unable to be effective.

Yet, the same order allows several businesses to stay open, where similar businesses have been told to close in other parts of the country.

The executive order was signed on March 24 and begins on March 25. It prevents “any planned or spontaneous, public or private event or convening that will bring together… 10 or more people in a confined or enclosed space at the same time.”

However, the order leaves room for many businesses that have been forced to close elsewhere to remain open to in-house customers in a limited capacity.

Listed among the exemptions to the order are restaurants, bars, religious gatherings, funerals, shopping malls, libraries and more, as long as attendees and customers “preserve social distancing of 6 feet between tables, booths, bar stools, and ordering counters.”

The state order is broad for the state of Kansas. Local jurisdictions have the power to enact stricter orders, as long as they don’t interfere with state or federal orders.

For example, Johnson County, Kansas, and Wyandotte County have both issued orders stopping in-house service at restaurants and bars and telling people to stay at home.

The Kansas order has several exemptions that do not exist in the Missouri social distancing order, which took effect on March 23. The Missouri order bans in-house service for everyone in the state.

“While none of us wanted to see this Executive Order further limiting the size of gatherings, it is necessary to help slow the spread of the coronavirus within our communities,” Kelly said in a statement.

“We learn more about this virus every day and we are seeing serious cases in every age group – not just among our seniors. The most effective way we can slow down the spread is to stay home and practice good hygiene techniques.”

She also issued an executive order detailing the Kansas Essential Functions Framework (KEFF) that counties will be required to use if local officials determine it is necessary to issue stay-at-home orders. This make sure workers in the infrastructure are still allowed to perform their duties.

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