JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Mike Parson announced Monday, April 27, the first phase of the Show Me Strong Recovery Plan, outlining how Missouri will gradually begin to reopen economic and social activity on Monday, May 4.
The announcement comes after President Donald Trump unveiled his guidelines for Opening Up America Again, a three-phased approach based on advice from federal public health experts. According to the website www.whitehouse.gov/openingamerica, the guidelines will help state and local officials when reopening their economies, getting people back to work and continuing to protect American lives.
“With favorable data and approval from state health officials, we are ready to take another step forward in the recovery of Missouri,” Parson said. The phase goes through Sunday, May 31.
Resting on four pillars, the state plan, according to a release, is intended to protect those most at risk of exposure to COVID-19 while returning Missouri to a new normal. It includes:
• expanding testing capacity and volume in the state;
• expanding reserves of personal protective equipment by opening public and private supply chains;
• continuing to monitor and, if necessary, expanding hospital and health care system capacity including isolation and alternate care facilities for those that cannot self-quarantine at home; and
• improving the ability to predict potential outbreaks using Missouri's public health data.
"During phase one of the plan, citizens may begin returning to economic and social activities, but must adhere to social distancing requirements, including maintaining six feet of space between individuals in most cases," states the release. There will be no limitations on social gatherings as long as necessary precautions are taken and six feet of distance can be maintained between individuals and/or families.
Additionally, all businesses will be allowed to open as long as social distancing guidelines are followed. Some businesses will be required to take additional precautions to protect their employees and the public, such as occupancy limits at retail locations.
“All of Missouri’s businesses, employers and employees are vital to our state’s economy and well-being,” Parson said. “Opening these businesses is going to look very different for awhile, but I’m confident Missourians will abide by the guidelines as we move forward.”
Parson said this will be a deliberate and data-driven process that allows for flexibility based on changing situations.
Recommendations & orders for people when not in homes
The Department of Health and Senior Services also provided input on the recovery plan. The following are orders and recommendations for once stay-home orders are lifted.
• When individuals leave their homes, they should, at all times, practice social distancing. Individuals may go to and from an individual’s place of worship, provided that limitations on social distancing are properly adhered to.
• Every person must abide by social distancing requirements, including maintaining six feet of space between individuals. This provision shall not apply to family members or individuals performing job duties that require contact with other people closer than six feet. Individuals performing job duties that require contact with other people closer than six feet should take enhanced precautionary measures to mitigate risks of contracting or spreading COVID-19.
• People cannot visit nursing homes, long-term care facilities, retirement homes or assisted living homes unless to provide critical assistance or in end-of-life circumstances. Elderly or otherwise vulnerable populations should take enhanced precautionary measures to mitigate the risks of contracting COVID-19.
• While schools shall remain closed for the remainder of the academic year, at the discretion of the school district, teachers, staff, students and parents can reenter school buildings in order to work, retrieve personal belongings or return school property as long as limitations on social distancing are properly adhered to. Summer school may proceed under guidelines set forth by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
• Day cares, child care providers and schools can provide child care in accordance with CDC guidelines. This order does not prohibit schools from providing food and nutritional services for children that qualify.
• Restaurants may offer dining-in services provided social distancing and other precautionary public health measures, including proper spacing of at least six feet between tables, lack of communal seating areas to parties that are not connected and having no more than 10 people at a single table, are adhered to. The continued use of drive-thru, pickup or delivery options is encouraged throughout the duration of this order.
• State office buildings shall be opened to the public as soon as practicable and essential state functions shall continue. The Capitol shall remain open to the public during meetings or proceedings of the General Assembly.
For more information on the Show Me Strong Recovery Plan, visit ShowMeStrong.Mo.Gov.
What other entities can do
Under the state plan, local officials like those at city and county levels, have the authority to put additional rules, regulations or ordinances in place as long as they are not inconsistent with the statewide order.
“As we begin to reopen, we will be prepared, but the virus is still here. Protect yourself and the people you love. Take care of each other,” Parson said. “Together, we will defeat COVID-19. Together, the state of Missouri will come back stronger than ever before."
Clay County Plan
In alignment with the state order, Clay County's stay-home order will also expire at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, May 3. Clay County Public Health Center plans to roll out its recovery phase plan this week.
"Each step of this phase will likely be weeks to months long and include different levels of guidance for how individuals and businesses can prevent the spread of disease," the center's site, www.clayhealth.com, states. "While public health will continue to focus on testing and contact tracing, individuals will be asked to continue to take seriously actions like frequent hand-washing, physical distancing and wearing masks in public."
CCPHC Communications Specialist Kelsey Neth said the county plan will include more reopening details for service-related businesses like bars and restaurants, but may not provide in-depth specifics for others like hair salons or other industries.
"There are so many different types of businesses and entities within Clay County that it's pretty much impossible to give what some people are looking for, which essentially, is a consultation for their business for exactly how they should operate," she said. "As a health department, we are there for support and general guidance and things like that, but there is some responsibility on the businesses to look at their personal situation and how they operate and find how the guidelines we lay out can translate into their business to make sure they are operating at the safest level for their employees and their customers."
Which expiration to follow
If stay-home orders where residents live do not align with the state's May 3 expiration, such as Kansas City, residents must follow the strictest order, said Neth.
“The way I like to think of it is, as a law-abiding citizen, I follow all the restrictions of whatever jurisdictions I belong to whether that is nation, state, city or county,” she said. “If you happen to live in an area that has extra rules, that is what you must work within.”