Dickinson County officials who were preparing the county’s COVID-19 reopening plan were more than a little surprised by at least one restriction imposed by the state.
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly lifted her Stay at Home order, instituted in March, during a news briefing Thursday night and unveiled the state’s plan to reopen the Kansas economy.
Dickinson County officials had hoped to allow hair and nail salons, barbershops and tattoo parlors to reopen with employees wearing personal protective equipment and following social distancing restrictions.
However, the governor’s plan said those type of businesses could not open until at least May 18, Phase 2 of the state’s reopen plan.
“I was hoping she (Kelly) would give us a little bit more control on some of it,” Dickinson County Administrator Brad Homman said Friday afternoon after the county released its reopening plan.
The Dickinson County plan was compiled by Homman, Dickinson County Health Officer Dr. Brian Holmes and Dickinson County Health Department Director John Hultgren.
Homman said the three had trouble making sense of the directive which implies that cutting someone’s hair or giving a perm is more dangerous than allowing a dental practitioner to work in someone’s mouth.
The Dickinson County reopen plan was released mid-afternoon on Friday and includes four phases which include different levels of guidance to help “save lives and reduce transmission of the COVID-19 virus.”
“We understand that restarting economic activity is one of our county’s priorities at this time along with keeping our community safe and limiting the spread of COVID-19,” according to the Dickinson County plan. “This is a critical time to be thoughtful and careful about reopening Dickinson County.”
Homman emphasized each phase is contingent on the county continuing to maintain “good numbers” (few new COVID-19 cases), health care facilities are “managing okay” and handling the case load and sufficient PPE (personal protective equipment) remains available.
“Unless we have a complete reverse of things from what we’ve been seeing, we should be okay,” Homman said.
Despite being surprised by a couple of the restrictions, Homman said the county was able to talk to officials in Topeka and obtain authorization to reopen parks and public spaces and allow recreation commission activities.
“There were a couple things in the (governor’s) plan we were able to argue about,” Homman said. “One was the parks and public spaces. We were able to open up that up, which originally was closed, and the other big one we got authorizes recreation commission activities.”
The state directive did not allow anyone to have any practices before the start of phase 2, but then was going to open rec activities for 13 events and tournaments.
“How are you going to have a tournament if you haven’t practiced? That makes no sense. They said you can have indoor practices,” Homman related, explaining Dr. Brian Holmes argued that indoor practices are more dangerous than an outdoor practice when it comes to spreading COVID-19.
Holmes argued that putting six, eight or nine kids outside practicing softball or baseball at 30 to 40 feet apart on bases is safer than putting them inside a confined facility,” Homman explained.
“They (state officials) finally said if you could social distance, then you can practice,” Homman added.
“I think ‘maintaining social distancing’ is going to be the buzz term we’re going to hear forever for the rest of our lives,” Homman said. “I’d be totally shocked if many businesses opened that did not include people wearing masks.”
The county’s reopen plan is available online by visiting the Dickinson County website at www.dkcoks.org.
Phase 1 reopen thoughts
Homman made a couple comments about Phase 1 (May 4 to May 17) of the Dickinson County plan:
• Parks that have been closed with any shared playground equipment can open today (May 4) and youth may start using the equipment. Recreation teams can practice outdoors as long as social distancing occurs;
• Food establishments can open with inside dining allowed with the caveat they adhere to social distancing guidelines, including those for wait lines, reservations encouraged and no self-serve food/beverages;
• Retail businesses must provide shopping cart sanitation supplies, maintain social distancing and employees are recommended to wear masks at all times, hand sanitizer should be available readily throughout the premises, marks should be applied to the floor in the area adjacent to each cash register to indicate where to wait for checkout, acrylic barriers are recommended at customer contact points and extended cleaning should be done throughout the workday.
• Religious services should adhere to social distancing guidelines;
• Personal service salons, barbershops, tattoo shops, flower shops and massage parlors cannot open per state guidelines, but product sales are allowed by pickup or curbside.
• Bowling alleys/indoor leisure spaces, gyms and fitness centers and public swimming pools cannot open;
• No graduation ceremonies can be held during phase 1;
• Community events must adhere to mass gathering and social distancing guidelines, the entity organizing the event is responsible for ensuring all guidelines are being followed and hand sanitizer should be readily available throughout the premises for the duration of the event.
• Individual real estate showings are allowed, maintaining social distancing guidelines. No open houses;
• The plan includes requirements for long-term care and childcare facilities. Any medical procedures are done per hospital/clinic rules, procedures.
Contact Kathy Hageman at email@example.com.