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Missouri’s ‘Phase 1’ of reopening extended through mid-June

   

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Gov. Mike Parson has announced the extension of the first phase of the state’s reopening process through June 15.

The order was originally slated to expire on May 31. During his daily briefing Thursday, Parson stressed the extension was not because Missouri “has taken steps back” in its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are very pleased with how well Phase 1 has gone so far. Businesses, communities, and Missourians across the state have been implementing health and safety measures, and we are encouraged by data across the state,” Parson said. “Extending Phase 1 through June 15 aligns with our other executive orders, as well as the state of emergency in Missouri.”

During this phase, Missourians are instructed to adhere to social distancing (6 feet apart) while engaging in activities. There are no limitations on social gatherings as long as precautions are taken and social distancing is maintained, according to the Governor’s Office.

It’s up to local health officials to enforce the reopening requirements, and they are allowed to put additional rules in place “so long as they are not inconsistent with the statewide order.”

Parson told reporters Thursday that the decision to extend the first reopening phase was not a response to the videos that emerged over the holiday weekend of people congregating in pools and bars at the Lake of the Ozarks while not social distancing. However, he did say “some communities across the state are farther along than others when it comes to reopening and economic recovery.”

“Extending the order will give these communities more time to prepare and align us at the state level as we continue working toward phase two,” Parson said.

Under the reopening plan, restaurants can offer dine-in services as long as social distancing and other precautionary measures are in place. This includes spacing tables at least 6 feet apart and banning communal seating to people not connected.

Retail stores are able to open as well but must limit the number of people inside the store. Stores with less than 10,000 square feet should limit those inside to 25 percent or less of the entity’s authorized fire or building code occupancy; locations with at least 10,000 square feet should set the limit to 10 percent or less of its authorized occupancy.

Parson’s first phase of reopening Missouri — a process his administration has deemed the “Show Me Strong Recovery Plan” — has four pillars.

Those are:

  1. An expansion of testing capacity and volume in Missouri
  2. An expansion of personal protective equipment (PPE) reserves through opening public and private supply chains
  3. A continuation of monitoring and expansion of hospitals and health care system capacity, including isolation and alternate care facilities for those who cannot quarantine at home
  4. An improvement in the ability to predict potential outbreaks using Missouri’s public health data

Parson also said that the state is seeing positive results in testing, recovery rates, personal protective equipment, and data. He further promoted the practice of social distancing and other safety measures as the reopening process continues.

As of Thursday afternoon, 12,673 Missourians have tested positive for COVID-19 and 707 people have died.

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