Riley County commissioners Monday approved amending the latest local health order (Local Health Order No. 17) to remove screening requirements for bar and restaurant employees.
Commissioners, sitting as the board of health, made the decision after seeing what the new language includes. There were concerns from business owners and local attorney Jeremy Platt that the logs were being sent to the Riley County Police Department for contact tracing and were not voluntary, a claim disputed by Local Health Officer Julie Gibbs.
Riley County Counselor Clancy Holeman says the county is willing to still look at concerns and says long as it still carries out the purpose of public health in the order, there will occasionally be room for some movement on this.
“He was perceiving it that way and some of the people he was talking to were perceiving it that way. It probably made sense to address it in a way that still allows the local health officer to have what she wants happening,” he said.
Rather than requiring businesses to maintain a log and have employees sign off on it, the county will instead strongly recommend that those businesses do such actions. Holeman says the purpose is for owners to know if they need an employee to go home and self-isolate, and offer voluntary employee screenings.
“Employees filling out this form are not required to provide the completed form to their supervisor or employer and then another change is removing initials,” he said.
Holeman says since the health department is not collecting these sheets, nor are they being used for contact tracing, there is no need for a signature.
Commissioner John Ford responded saying as new people are coming into town, it was in the county’s best interest to amend the order now, to ensure those community members know what is expected of them when they reach Manhattan, and not later on.
“I’m aware of some other businesses outside the restaurant and bar sectors that are doing something similar with this as well. I think it’s another solid way of trying to mitigate some factors to keep some of the difficult things from having to happen hopefully down the road,” he said.
Local Health Order No. 17 went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday and will remain in place until amended, superseded or rescinded. It can be viewed here.