• Last modified 788 days ago (May 7, 2020)


State partially opens; courthouse to stay closed

Staff writer

Governor Laura Kelly on Thursday announced her plan to reopen the state of Kansas in three phases and county commissioners on Monday approved two county health department stipulations to encourage social distancing.

The first is that self-service of unpackaged food such as salad bars and buffets is not allowed, and door-to-door business solicitation is not permitted.

Although buffets and salad bars remain closed, self-service drink stations are open for drinks in new cups only. One convenience store has decided not to offer self-service coffee because customers would all touch the same lever.

The governor’s three phases, each expected to be two weeks long, are subject to change depending on COVID-19 testing rates, hospitalizations, and the ability to trace contacts of people who test positive. The availability of personal protective equipment will also be a factor.

In the meantime, people are asked to wear face masks, practice good hygiene, stay home if they are sick, continue to clean and disinfect surfaces, and follow any quarantine or isolation orders issued by the health department.

During phase one, mass gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited; telework is encouraged when possible; and nonessential travel is discouraged.

Restaurants can reopen dining rooms as long as there is six feet of distance between tables.

Child care facilities and libraries are permitted to reopen. So are businesses not considered “essential” as long as social distancing can be maintained.

Businesses not allowed to reopen include community centers; entertainment venues with capacity of more than 2,000; fairs, festivals, parades, and graduations; public swimming pools, organized sports facilities, summer camps; bars and nightclubs excluding curbside and carryout services; non-tribal casinos, indoor leisure spaces; fitness centers and gyms; and personal service businesses where where close contact cannot be avoided.

Courthouse offices

Commissioners discussed whether to reopen the courthouse for public entry and decided that for now, members of the public will continue to make an appointment to enter and an employee will meet them at the door.

Sneeze panels have been installed in county offices and a questionnaire given to courthouse visitors has been updated.

Masks have been purchased for courthouse employees to wear, and might be given to someone who doesn’t have one when they arrive.

District court

Hearings in district court will remain restricted because the courthouse remains closed.

District judge Michael Powers said an administrative order that was signed Friday by the chief justice of the state Supreme Court gave directions for courts in counties that have opened courthouse doors and counties that have not.

“We are going to be converting to doing everything we can by Zoom,” Powers said. “If we can make it done by Zoom, we will.”

When commissioners reopen the courthouse, Powers will coordinate with the county health nurse to determine their next steps.

“Once we start doing the videoconference hearings, we will be live streaming them to YouTube,” Powers said. “Once the courthouse is no longer closed, we will not longer stream it on YouTube.”

Last modified May 7, 2020