Despite a last ditch effort to reopen Johnson County May 4, the date was pushed to May 11.
In the May 1 virtual meeting, Mike Brown, 6th district county commissioner made a motion to reopen the county May 4, which would be in line with the state’s reopening under Gov. Laura Kelly. He based his request, in part, on concerns from constituents suffering from financial stress.
After a sometimes heated discussion, the motion failed with a 4-3 vote, with Commissioners Jim Allen, Becky Fast, Janeé Hanzlick and Eilert voting against it. Brown, Steve Klika and Michael Ashcraft voted for it.
The commissioners voted to table the Johnson County COVID-19 Recovery Planning Task Force recommendations and the county will follow the phases of the governor’s reopening Kansas plan a week later. The Local Health Officer’s order to extend the governor’s stay-at-home in Johnson County means that the first phase is planned to begin May 11.
Commissioners expressed appreciation for the time and dedication by task force members in preparing a recovery work plan for the county. However, following consideration of the governor’s plan it was determined that this direction will eliminate confusion about which businesses will open in which phase.
The biggest change from the county’s proposed plan is that Phase One will no longer include the opening of personal service businesses where a 6-foot distance cannot be maintained (such as hair salons, barbers, nail salons, massage therapy businesses, tattoo shops) as well as gyms, bars, outdoor playgrounds and sports courts; those will now open in Phase Two, no sooner than May 18.
It is important to note that while the state plan calls for a May 3 expiration of the stay-at-home order, the governor’s plan allows counties to extend the stay-at-home order. On Thursday, April 30, Johnson County’s Local Health Officer Dr. Joseph LeMaster extended that order through 11:59 p.m. May 10.
Up until the planned beginning of Phase One on May 11, only those businesses which are considered as essential businesses by Governor Kelly’s stay-at-home order will be open.
The governor, using criteria and data outlined in the Reopen Kansas report, will determine when it is time to move to the next phase. Each phase has a minimum time outlined before the next phase is undertaken.
According to the governor’s plan, the capability of ongoing testing, tracing and disease investigation will play an important role in the decision-making process.
The best resource for details are the county’s coronavirus page at www.jocogov.org/coronavirus and the governor’s plan page at www.covid.ks.gov.