Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in Kansas, US, to allow additional businesses to reopen starting May 18 as part of state's coronavirus recovery plan.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Wichita, Kansas
  • Dodge City, Kansas
  • Manhattan, Kansas
  • Topeka, Kansas
  • Salina, Kansas
  • Liberal, Kansas
  • Hays, Kansas
  • Goodland, Kansas

This alert began 16 May 2020 18:20 GMT and is scheduled to expire 29 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Kansas (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has issued an executive order launching Phase 1.5 of the state's coronavirus (COVID-19) economic recovery plan. The start of the new phase will enable additional businesses to reopen and activities to resume starting on May 18. The governor has also delayed the start of Phase 2 through at least June 1 to continue efforts to curb the spread of the disease. Phase 1.5 includes the following measures:

  • Personal care businesses, such as hair salons, and barbershops, may reopen, albeit by appointment only.
  • Gyms and health clubs may reopen; however, locker rooms must remain closed and group classes canceled.
  • In-person graduation ceremonies may take place, as long as no more than 10 people are gathered within the same room.

Since May 1, authorities have allowed retail stores and houses of worship to reopen for in-person services. Restaurants are also allowed to provide dine-in services but must use physical barriers sufficient to prevent potential virus spread between customers. Essential businesses, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and banks, as well as media, transport, security, public utilities, and critical manufacturing companies, may continue operating. All businesses must comply with certain safety requirements, including social distancing guidelines, enhanced sanitation procedures, travel limitations, and the use of protective face masks, among other measures. All businesses must encourage employees to work from home to the extent possible.

Gatherings of 10 people or more will remain banned until at least June 1. Among the businesses and activities that must remain closed or canceled are bars and nightclubs, casinos, theaters, cinemas, museums, zoos, pools, community centers, fairs, sports tournaments, and summer camps.

Phase 2 was initially scheduled for May 18 but has been delayed until at least June 1 due to COVID-19 activity in the state. Phase 3 is now scheduled for June 15, and Phase 4 for June 29. State officials could make significant changes to the exact implementation, timing, and content of each phase in the event of any increases in disease activity over the coming weeks. Local and tribal governments may issue more restrictive regulations. All kindergartens, and elementary and secondary schools will be closed for the remainder of the school year.

Significant transport and business disruptions are likely. Authorities will likely keep additional security personnel deployed to assist in enforcing the measures.

Background and Analysis
The relaxation of some measures will likely accelerate in the coming weeks; however, restrictions may be reimposed or extended further should the number of COVID-19 cases increase. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in the areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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