Kansas City residents and workers are safer at home, Mayor Quinton Lucas said Monday, announcing new KCMO guidelines aimed at mitigating the spread of the Coronavirus and decreasing the strain on the region’s hospitals and health care workers.
Lucas also urged families to cancel “the normal version of their Thanksgiving plans.”
“Like many, I have a family of some size. I will not see them on Thanksgiving,” he said Monday at a press conference. “This is about people actually staying safe. … No one wants to be the Grinch, but we are asking folks to take these important steps so we can get to a more positive situation later on.”
KCMO has recorded 18,227 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases and 246 deaths, as of Friday, according to the city. Fifty percent of new cases have been people in their 20s and 30s, Lucas noted Monday.
“We are in the toughest moment since this virus came into our communities, and overcoming this crisis requires an aggressive and immediate response,” he said, announcing what he termed a “partial shutdown” or “slowdown” for KCMO. “State lines, county lines, and city lines are nothing more than street names. It takes leadership and all of us — our entire region — to slow the spread.”
The new rules — based on recommendations from health leaders in KCMO, as well as Wyandotte and Johnson counties in Kansas — add new guidance for heightened mask usage (including outdoors when social distancing isn’t possible), limit indoor and outdoor gatherings, detail seating requirements for certain businesses, and establish a 10 p.m. closure/curfew for “restaurants, taverns, and all other venues, including wedding and other event spaces.”
“We recognize the challenge,” Lucas said of the early closure rule, “But we also recognize that particularly in later hours … we’ve seen laxer enforcement from private actors on rules related to social distancing, laxer enforcement of mask requirements, and those challenges have led us to believe that this was the best way — before people are inebriated in later hours, before they are crowding — to avoid certain bar and restaurant issues.”
The order also eliminates a mask exception for KCMO police and firefighters who are on the job.
Click here for the full text of the mayor’s emergency order to reduce possible exposure to COVID-19. The order takes effect Friday.
All businesses are encouraged to allow their employees to work remotely to the fullest extent possible, according to the order. If trends continue to worsen, the city could re-examine a remote work mandate — particularly dependent on the outcome of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Lucas said.
“We take these actions not to be punitive, and we certainly take them cognizant of business challenges in Kansas City,” he said.
Click here to read more about COVID-related restrictions in Johnson County, Kansas.
Click here to learn more about new, coordinated rules for Jackson County, Missouri, and Wyandotte County, Kansas.
Kansas City, we are #SaferAtHome. While these guidelines will provide necessary parameters to limit group gatherings, slowing the spread of #COVID19 will require participation from us all. We ask that you act in the best interest of not just yourself, but our entire community. pic.twitter.com/K7OEehlvi7
— Mayor Quinton Lucas (@MayorLucasKC) November 16, 2020
Kansas City — as with communities across the nation — has seen a dramatic uptick in COVID cases and hospitalizations in recent weeks, said Lucas and Dr. Rex Archer, KCMO health department director, at a mid-day press conference announcing the “Safer at Home” guidelines.
Demand for ICU beds notably is coming from within Kansas City and its suburbs, but also from rural Missouri and Kansas, Lucas detailed Monday.
“Not only are we seeing record increases in new cases and COVID deaths, we will also experience additional deaths that could have been saved if there was room in the hospitals to treat these other conditions,” added Archer. “If everyone takes personal responsibility to follow our new orders, dozens of lives will be saved.”
Click here for frequently asked questions about KCMO’s guidelines.
Residents and employers should be canceling or postponing holiday events, as well as any other large public or private gatherings, Lucas said.
“It’s very simple,” he said. “Every wedding, every Thanksgiving, every large event is a potential for large community spread. We have seen it time and again: people who did not intend to get relatives sick; people who did not intend to get friends sick; people who did not intend to get coworkers sick — that has been a significant problem for us.”
As a mayor used to attending multiple networking and civic events a day, Lucas is well aware of the social and professional implications of skipping such gatherings, he said, asking the residents and businesses to act out of an abundance of caution — not look for loopholes in the rules.
“This is a time when, rather than calling the director of public health and asking, ‘Can we have our office Christmas party?’ You should just say, ‘OK. This is not the year we’re going to have that office holiday party,’” Lucas said.
Among the new KCMO guidelines:
- All indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people maximum.
- Restaurants, taverns, and all other venues, including wedding and other event spaces, shall close at 10 p.m., require social distancing between different parties, and limit the number of occupants indoors to no more than 50 percent of building occupancy. Indoor and outdoor patrons at these facilities must be seated, and also masked at all times except when actively eating or drinking.
- Indoor and outdoor parties are limited to a maximum of 10 people and parties shall be spaced with no less than six feet of distance between themselves and individuals from any other parties.
- Restaurants, taverns, and bars must immediately report known COVID-19 cases to the Kansas City Health Department.
- Masks must be worn in all indoor spaces with more than one person per room, and outdoor spaces where social distancing cannot be maintained.
- Patrons of gyms, fitness, and recreational centers, including city, school, and other publicly-owned and managed facilities are required to wear masks at all times, and these establishments are limited to no more than 50 percent capacity.
Text COVIDKC to 888-777 to receive text updates from the City of Kansas City regarding COVID-19.