Though not officially released, a leaked draft document of Riley County’s plan to lift COVID-19 restrictions indicates the county could see most activities return to normal by the end of June.
Riley County health and safety officials said in their Wednesday coronavirus press conference that they were awaiting the governor’s announcement of her re-opening plan Thursday to ensure the two do not conflict, but an anonymous source provided an unofficial synopsis of the local plan to the Manhattan Mercury.
Riley County is currently in phase one of a five phase plan, operating under stay-at-home orders and only permitting essential businesses to remain open. The remaining four phases will only go into effect after May 2nd depending on health conditions locally. Each phase will last at least 14 days, making a return to somewhat normal business in Riley County possible no sooner than 42 days from May 2nd — or June 13th at the earliest.
Step 2 in the plan would lift the stay-at-home order and allow most retail businesses to open as well as weddings and funerals to be conducted, though social distancing and other health precautions such as masks must be in place. Dine-in at restaurants, nail and hair salons, movie theaters and performance halls as well as fitness centers and sporting events will remain closed. To open at all, though, Kansas must lift statewide restrictions, sufficient testing and personal protective equipment must be available, and local numbers must not show exponential increases in case numbers.
Step 3 will allow for hail and nail salons to re-open in addition to tanning salons, tattoo parlors and fitness centers. Masks for employees will still be required, though gathering limitations will be lessened allowing for gatherings up to 25 people. This will only be permitted if local COVID-19 numbers are showing the rate of spread is stable or decreasing, case clusters are identified and contained, and the health system can cope with the current and potential volume of cases.
Step 4 will lift most restrictions, even allowing theaters and venues to re-open and restaurants to accept dine-in customers — though occupancy limits will be enforced. The draft states the size of gatherings will be allowed to grow, though no number regarding a limitation is listed. Social distancing will also be necessary as recommended by the CDC. Steps 3 through 5 have the same pre-requisites to progress to the next phase.
Step 5 will see most restrictions lifted altogether, or the “new normal,” though some limitations will be placed on large occupancy businesses on a case-by-case basis. Very large gatherings will also be allowed on a case-by-case basis. Throughout the phased approach, any negative trend in case numbers could lead to a backward step into an earlier phase.
KMAN reached out to officials for further comment and will update as more information becomes available.RiCoPlan