Kansas City Area Enacts Slew of Stay at Home Orders

Most residents in the Kansas City area are now subject to one of the many stay at home orders enacted in Kansas City, Missouri, including orders issued by Platte, Clay, and Jackson counties in Missouri and Wyandotte, Johnson, and Leavenworth counties in Kansas. These stay at home orders are similar to those enacted in Illinois, the St. Louis area, and other jurisdictions across the United States. Each order took effect on March 24, 2020, and requires people to stay in their homes, except for certain “Essential Activities” or to work at an “Essential Business.” The orders also require non-essential businesses to cease in-person operations, except for certain “Minimum Basic Operations.” The specific requirements of, and exceptions to, the orders are described in further detail below.

Kansas City Order and Clay County Order

Kansas City’s Second Amended Order 20-01 (the “Kansas City Order”) and the Clay County Public Health Center Issued the County of Clay Public Health Emergency Order Amended 03222020 (the “Clay County Order”) are essentially the same and were both enacted on March 22, 2020.

“Social Distancing Requirements”

The Kansas City Order and the Clay County Order require all individuals to exercise the following Social Distancing Requirements at all times:

  • maintaining at least a six-foot social distancing from other individuals;
  • washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer;
  • regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces; and
  • not shaking hands.

Individual Exceptions – “Essential Activities”

The Kansas City Order and the Clay County Order permit individuals to leave their residences to perform “Essential Activities,” which include the following:

  • engaging in activities or performing tasks essential to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of their family, household members, pets, or close personal acquaintances;
  • obtaining necessary services or supplies for themselves and their family, household members, or close personal acquaintances, or to deliver those services or supplies to others;
  • engaging in outdoor activity, provided the individuals comply with Social Distancing Requirements;
  • performing work or providing services at an Essential Business; and
  • caring for a family member, close personal acquaintance, or pet in another household.

The Kansas City Order and the Clay County Order specifically provide that Essential Activities do not include weddings, funerals, wakes, memorial services, or similar gatherings. People at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 are urged to stay in their residence except as necessary to seek medical care and to obtain provision of essential life items. Additionally, all first responders, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, court personnel, law enforcement personnel, and school personnel operating at the direction of their administrator, and others working for or to support Essential Businesses are categorically exempt from the Kansas City Order or the Clay County Order, as applicable.

Business Exceptions – “Essential Businesses” and “Minimum Basic Operations”

Essential Businesses may continue their operations and include the following:

  • operations relating to the delivery of healthcare (specifically excluding fitness and exercise gyms and similar facilities);
  • essential infrastructure;
  • grocery stores, farmers’ markets, farm and produce stands, markets, food banks, convenience stores, and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supply, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and any other household consumer products;
  • food cultivation, including farming, livestock, and fishing;
  • human and animal food processing facility workers;
  • businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals;
  • newspapers, television, radio, and other media services;
  • gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair, and related facilities;
  • banks and related financial institutions;
  • hardware stores;
  • plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, Essential Activities, and Essential Businesses;
  • businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes;
  • educational institutions—including public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities—for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions related to distance learning and provision of other services related student welfare;
  • laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers;
  • railroads and rail systems;
  • restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food and drink, but only for delivery or carry out;
  • businesses that supply products needed for people to work from home;
  • businesses that supply other Essential Businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate;
  • businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences;
  • airlines, taxis, and other private transportation providers providing transportation services necessary for Essential Activities, as well as transportation maintenance services such as mechanics necessary to keep transportation services operational;
  • home-based care for seniors, adults, or children;
  • residential facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, and children;
  • professional services, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities;
  • childcare facilities providing services that enable employees exempted in the Kansas City Order or the Clay County Order, as applicable, to work as permitted, provided that, to the extent possible, (i) childcare should be carried out in stable groups, preferably of ten or fewer; (ii) children should not change from one group to another; (iii) if more than one group of children is cared for at one facility, each group should be in a separate room and groups should not mix with each other; and (iv) childcare providers should remain solely with one group of children.

Under the Kansas City Order and the Clay County Order, schools and other entities that typically provide free food services to students or members of the public may continue to do so, as long as the food is provided to students or members of the public on a pick-up and takeaway basis only.

Non-essential businesses may only continue operations consisting exclusively of employees, contractors, or other agents of the business working from home or “Minimum Basic Operations,” meaning the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of a business’s inventory and facilities, ensure security, process payroll or employee benefits, or to facilitate employees being able to continue to work remotely from home. Employees must comply with the Social Distancing Requirements, to the extent possible, while carrying out such operations.

Platte County Order, Jackson County Order, Wyandotte County Order, and Leavenworth County Order

The Platte County Health Department’s Order for Limitation of Privacy and Public Gatherings of More than 10 Individuals and Restriction on Activities (the “Platte County Order”), the Jackson County stay at home order, dated March 22, 2020 (the “Jackson County Order”), the Wyandotte Emergency Order of the Local Health Office (the “Wyandotte County Order”), and the Leavenworth County Emergency Order of the Local Health Officer (the “Leavenworth County Order”) are substantially similar, as described in detail below.

“Social Distancing Requirements”

The Platte County Order, the Jackson County Order, the Wyandotte County Order, and the Leavenworth County Order require all individuals to exercise the following Social Distancing Requirements, to the extent possible:

  • maintaining at least a six-foot social distancing from other individuals;
  • washing hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer;
  • covering coughs or sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands);
  • regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces; and
  • not shaking hands.

Individual Exceptions – “Essential Activities” and “Essential Travel”

The Platte County Order, the Jackson County Order, the Wyandotte County Order, and the Leavenworth County Order permit individuals to leave their residence only to perform the following “Essential Activities,” which are substantially similar to the Essential Activities contained in the Kansas City Order and the Clay County Order:

  • engaging in activities or performing tasks essential to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of their family, household members, or pets, including obtaining services at any healthcare operations;
  • obtaining necessary services or supplies for themselves and their family, or household members, or to deliver those services or supplies to others; 
  • engaging in outdoor activity, provided the individuals comply with Social Distancing Requirements;
  • performing work providing essential products and services at an Essential Business or to otherwise carry out activities specifically permitted in the applicable county order, including Minimum Basic Operations at non-essential businesses;
  • caring for a family member or pet in another household; and
  • providing any services or performing any work necessary to the operations and maintenance of essential infrastructure.

Weddings, funerals, or wakes are not exempt under the Platte County Order, the Wyandotte County Order, or the Leavenworth County Order. All first responders, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, court personnel, law enforcement personnel, and others working for or to support Essential Businesses are categorically exempt from the Platte County Order, the Jackson County Order, the Wyandotte County Order, and the Leavenworth County Order.

Additionally, the Platte County Order permits individuals to leave their residence for “Essential Travel,” which includes travel for any of the following:

  • any travel related to the provision of or access to Essential Activities, essential governmental functions, Essential Businesses, or Minimum Basic Operations;
  • travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons;
  • travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services;
  • travel to return to a place of residence from outside Platte County; and
  • travel required by law enforcement or court order.

Individuals engaged in any Essential Travel must comply with all Social Distancing Requirements. The Jackson County Order, the Wyandotte County Order, and the Leavenworth County Order do not address essential travel.

Business Exceptions – “Essential Businesses” and “Minimum Basic Operations”

The Platte County Order, the Wyandotte County Order, and the Leavenworth County Order permit Essential Businesses to continue operations and their lists of Essential Businesses mirror the list in the Kansas City Order and the Clay County Order, except that they do not include railroads and rail systems. In addition, the Wyandotte County Order and the Leavenworth County Order include essential government functions and do not include airlines in its list of Essential Businesses. The Jackson County Order also contains the same list of Essential Businesses as the Kansas City Order and the Clay County Order, except it does not include railroads and rail systems or human and animal food processing facility workers.

Similarly, the Platte County Order and the Jackson County Order define “Minimum Basic Operations” to include the following: the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of a business’s inventory and facilities, ensure security, process payroll or employee benefits, or to facilitate employees being able to continue to work remotely from home. Employees must comply with the Social Distancing Requirements, to the extent possible, while carrying out such operations.

The Wyandotte County Order and the Leavenworth County Order do not include minimum basic operations. However, they contain the following additional proactive measures for Essential Businesses to ensure compliance with Social Distancing Requirements:

  • designating with signage, tape, or by other means six-foot spacing for employees and customers in line to maintain appropriate six-foot distances;
  • having hand sanitizer and sanitizing products readily available for employees and customers;
  • implementing separate operating hours for elderly and vulnerable customers; and
  • posting online whether a facility is open and how best to reach the facility and continue services by phone or remotely.

Johnson County Order

“Social Distancing Requirements”

The Johnson County Emergency Order of the Local Health Officer (the “Johnson County Order”) requires all individuals to exercise the following Social Distancing Requirements, to the extent possible:

  • maintaining at least a six-foot social distancing from other individuals;
  • washing hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer;
  • covering coughs or sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands);
  • regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces; and
  • not shaking hands.

Individual Exceptions – “Essential Activities”

Like the other orders, the Johnson County Order permits individuals to leave their residence only to perform “Essential Activities,” which include the following:

  • engaging in activities or performing tasks essential to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of their family, household members, or pets, including obtaining services at any healthcare operations;
  • obtaining necessary services or supplies for themselves and their family, or household members, or to deliver those services or supplies to others;
  • engaging in outdoor activity, provided the individuals comply with Social Distancing Requirements;
  • performing work providing essential products and services at an Essential Business or to otherwise carry out activities specifically permitted in the applicable county order, including Minimum Basic Operations;
  • caring for a family member or pet in another household, or engaging in transportation or transporting the family member or pet to provide for such care;
  • complying with valid court or administrative orders;
  • working for or obtaining services at any healthcare operations;
  • providing any services or performing any work necessary to the operations and maintenance of essential infrastructure; and
  • performing or accessing essential government functions.

The Johnson County Order exempts all first responders, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, court personnel, law enforcement personnel, and others working for or to support Essential Businesses.

Business Exceptions – “Essential Businesses” and “Minimum Basic Operations”

The Johnson County Order definition of “Essential Businesses” mirrors the definition used in the Kansas City Order and the Clay County Order, except that the Johnson County Order does not include railroads and rail systems and explicitly includes the following:

  • essential government functions;
  • emergency road services;
  • cleaning and janitorial staff, security staff, HVAC, painting, moving and relocation services, lawn care and landscaping;
  • mortuary, cremation, and burial services; and
  • hotels and motels, to the extent used for lodging and delivery or carry-out food services; and
  • manufacturing companies, distributors, and supply chain companies producing and supplying essential products and services in and for residences and industries such as pharmaceutical, technology, biotechnology, healthcare, chemicals and sanitation, waste pickup and disposal, agriculture, food and beverage, transportation, energy, steel and steel products, petroleum, lubricants and fuel, mining, construction, national defense, communications, as well as products and services used by Essential Businesses.

Like the Wyandotte County Order and the Leavenworth County Order, the Johnson County Order does not define minimum basic operations, but contains the following additional proactive measures for Essential Businesses to ensure compliance with Social Distancing Requirements:

  • designating with signage, tape, or by other means six-foot spacing for employees and customers in line to maintain appropriate six-foot distances;
  • having hand sanitizer and sanitizing products readily available for employees and customers;
  • implementing separate operating hours for elderly and vulnerable customers; and
  • posting online whether a facility is open and how best to reach the facility and continue services by phone or remotely.

The Kansas City Order can be found here, the Clay County Order can be found here, and the Jackson County Order can be found here. These orders went into effect as of 12:01 a.m. on March 24, 2020 and will be in place until 11:59 p.m. on April 24, 2020. Additionally, the Platte County Order can be found here, and went effect at 12:01 a.m. on March 24, 2020 and will be in effect until 12:00 a.m. on April 24, 2020. The Wyandotte County Order can be found here, and will last from 12:00 a.m. on March 24, 2020 until April 23, 2020 (time not specified). The Johnson County Order can be found here, and went into effect at 12:01 a.m. on March 24, 2020 and will remain in effect until 12:01 a.m. on April 23, 2020. Lastly, the Leavenworth County Order can be found here and will be in place from 12:00 a.m. on March 24, 2020 until 11:59 p.m. on April 23, 2020.  

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lewis Rice has formed a COVID-19 Task Force which brings together subject matter authorities from various practice areas within the Firm who stand ready to assist our clients as they navigate these challenging and evolving issues. If you need assistance with compliance, please contact one of the authors above or another member of the Task Force.