TOPEKA, KS (AP) — Shuttered retailers, dine-in restaurants and offices in some parts of Kansas are reopening Monday as Gov. Laura Kelly gradually begins lifting the state's stay-at-home order amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Social distancing still must be observed, and masks are strongly encouraged under the first reopening phase. Many businesses, including bars, gyms, theaters, barbershops, hair and nail salons or state-owned casinos, must remain closed until the second phase, which is expected to begin on May 18. That's when the 10-person mass gathering limit will begin to gradually increase, rising to 30 until June 1 and 90 until June 15.
Churches, however, will be exempted from the mass-gathering rules, although worshipers must spread out and not pass collection plates.
There will be no immediate change in some counties, including hard-hit Johnson and Wyandotte in the Kansas City area. Kelly's order allows local officials to set their own stricter rules, and both of those counties chose to keep stay-at-home orders in effect for another week.
The Democratic governor has been under pressure from the Republican-controlled Legislature to lift restrictions as unemployment claims soar and tax revenues drop.
Kelly described her plan last week as an effort to balance "non-negotiable public health considerations with jaw-dropping, unsustainable economic realities."