Franklin County approved a proposal Friday morning from public health officer Bud Ransom to follow the state of Kansas’ reopening plan without any additional restrictions.
Gov. Laura Kelly outlined the three-phase plan Thursday night.
Derek Brown, county administrator/counselor, said the county team dealing with COVID-19 met after Kelly’s announcement to analyze the executive order in detail.
“Does this order provide enough protections for us or do we feel like we need to add additional protections to the order to provide another level of safety for our people,” Brown said. “The order allows us to be more restrictive.”
The restrictions on mass gatherings and certain businesses pertain to everyone, Brown said.
“There is nothing you can do as a board of county commissioners, there is nothing that Dr. Ransom can do as the public health officer, to lessen the restrictions of the order,” he said. “It applies to individuals, businesses and activities.”
The state determines how long each phase lasts. Historically they have been in two-week segments, Brown said.
“The governor and her staff will be the ones that make the determination on whether we stay in phase one or advance to phase two,” he said. “We don’t have a say in that.”
The state’s positive case numbers passed the 4,000 mark Thursday.
“It is possibility, if not a likelihood, that this first phase lasts longer than two weeks,” Brown said. “I am not sure the number of cases in the state of Kansas is currently declining.”
Ransom echoed Brown’s sentiments.
“I would not be surprised if it is four weeks,” he said. “I would be shocked if we entered (the next phase) in two weeks.”
A big part of the first phase was the restriction on mass gatherings to 10 or fewer people.
“My interpretation is if you have 20 people in a room but those 20 people have a 6-foot distance between them, you don’t have a (violation of) mass gathering of 10 or more,” he said. “Churches have been a topic of controversy. Under this order, provided social distancing requirements are met, a church can have 30, 40 or 50 people. We need to make sure they are staying apart. Social distancing is really important under this order.”
Other businesses and activities that are prohibited under phase one include hair salons, barber shops, nail salons, spas, gyms, bars, nightclubs, community centers, bowling alleys, public swimming pools, organized sports facilities, fairs, concerts, carnivals, parades and graduations.
“Unless you are one of the businesses that is expressly prohibited, then you can open (Monday),” Brown said. “You will have to meet certain requirements. The primary one is 6-feet distance between customers. You also have to follow certain cleaning and health practices. Those are detailed at the state’s website, covid.ks.gov.”
County buildings will remain closed during phase one.
“Keeping the buildings closed to the public through phase one gives us time to fortify those buildings,” Brown said. “We are in the process of acquiring plexiglass barriers that we can put up.
“We would continue teleconferences during phase one as opposed to bringing all the commissioners back into the chamber. Phase two provides the option of opening our buildings to the public. We will require our (employees) that deal with the public to wear masks.”