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Missouri governor moves to reopen businesses ‒ with conditions

On April 27, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson issued the Show-Me Strong Recovery Order, a directive forming part of the state’s plan to reopen business and community operations. This order will take effect on May 4, after the expiration of the current stay at home order.

Under the new order, businesses may reopen but are subject to social distancing requirements. Social distancing is defined as maintaining 6 feet of distance between individuals but does not apply to people performing job duties that require closer contact or between family members. Individuals are required to practice social distancing at all times, including during religious worship practices which may now resume.

Retail stores with less than 10,000 square feet may still only operate at 25 percent occupancy capacity, and stores 10,000 square feet or more may only operate at 10 percent occupancy capacity, as set by the fire code. This includes grocery stores.

Restaurants may resume dining-in services. However, there must be 6 feet of distance between tables, no communal seating areas, and no more than 10 people at a single table. Drive-thru, pickup, and delivery are still encouraged.

Non-emergency healthcare operations, including dental and optometry appointments, may begin providing usual services at their discretion. However, guidelines provide that businesses, including medical providers, that have a waiting room should implement a system where their customers wait in their cars and only enter the building for their appointment.

Individuals are not permitted to visit nursing or assisted living facilities except to provide critical assistance or in end of life circumstances, and schools are to remain closed, except for providing Food and Nutritional Services for children that qualify. Daycares and schools may provide child care in accordance with CDC guidelines.

The order permits local authorities to make further ordinances as necessary for the locality, and localities with more restrictive orders will remain in place. Kansas City, Missouri, and Jackson County, Missouri currently have extended their stay at home orders until May 15. St. Louis City and St. Louis County have extended their stay at home orders indefinitely, to be re-evaluated mid-May. Thus, the orders with more restrictive measures will remain in effect in those locations.

General Guidelines on Phase 1 instruct businesses to prepare prevention measures informed by industry best practices regarding protective equipment, temperature checks, testing, isolating, tracing, and sanitation. Further, workspaces should be modified to maximize social distancing. Businesses should develop a preparedness and response plan, and also should monitor employees for symptoms. Finally, businesses are encouraged to develop, implement, and communicate protections to their employees, including telework as possible, returning to work in phases, limiting access to common areas, and ensuring that sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.