The second phase of the governor’s plan to reopen the state was to begin May 18, but late last week, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly issued an executive order, establishing a 1.5 phase, which lifts some restrictions, but maintains others. The decision has pleased some local business owners, while leaving others unhappy.
Barbershops, hair and nail salons can be open by appointment only. Late Monday afternoon, Rachel Moore, owner of Wild About Hair, 211 S. Washington, said she had had non-stop appointments since 9:30 a.m.
“We’ve had a really good response,“ Moore said. “Everyone that’s been in today has had at least two months if not more since they’ve had a haircut.”
Kip Etter, owner of The Dore, 114 N. Washington Ave., has been serving carry out and delivery food since the state shutdown began in April. Yet, while other restaurants in town have been allowed to have limited dine in service again, The Dore has not because it is classified as a bar, rather than a restaurant.
“It’s Interesting as to why people have the freedom to frequent numerous other ‘essential businesses’ but the same population of people are having those same freedoms taken away if they go down the street to what is considered by the governor as ‘non essential,’” Etter said.
Phase 2 is now set to begin June 1. At that time, bars and nightclubs can open and must maintain a 50 percent capacity.
“By the very nature of our industry and due to our state licensing, we have to practice numerous cleaning and sanitizing processes that these other ‘essential businesses’ do not and in some cases are not required to do but they are open for businesses.
Etter says his restaurant/bar has the same state licensing as several other businesses and that its sales are basically 50/50 food/alcohol.
“We have freedoms and those are being trampled on,” Etter said. “We were told from the beginning that the goal was to flatten the curve, which we have done.”
Last weekend, Etter said he had met with Laura Rettig, Sumner County public health officer. He recalled Rettig saying she didn’t know how to classify The Dore because it has a bar and has the word bar in its name. She did not think there was necessarily an issue with the restaurant serving food but didn’t know how that would work with serving alcohol.
A public health officer can impose tighter restrictions than the state in times of “significant public health risk,” but cannot allow less requirements than the state.
“I have no requirements for Mr. Etter as the owner of a bar and grill that are stricter than the Governor’s,” Rettig said.
When Phase 2 of the reopening plan begins no earlier than June 1, libraries, swimming pools and community centers and childcare facilities will be allowed to open. Organized sports facilities, tournaments and practices will be allowed with some exceptions.
However, mass gatherings of no more than 30 people will be allowed. People will still be encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing of keeping six feet apart. Telework will still be encouraged, employees with symptoms should stay home and travel should be minimized, according to the plan.
Phase 3 is to begin no earlier than June 15 and the phase out is to begin no earlier than June 29.
Moore said, “Everybody is ready to get back to normal.”