Bars and taverns in Wyandotte County will get to stay open until midnight, starting Wednesday, according to a new health order from the Unified Government Health Department.
Earlier, bars and restaurants were ordered to close at 10 p.m., starting Nov. 20, to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Bar and restaurant owners recently appeared before the Unified Government committee and also appeared during a meeting with UG officials through the Kansas City, Kansas, Chamber of Commerce and other business and community organizations.
The bar and restaurant owners here said that they were losing business to Johnson County and Leavenworth County, because bars and restaurants there could stay open until midnight or later. Some owners said they would have to curtail hours more or close down on some days because of the loss of revenue.
The Core4 group of metro area counties tried to agree upon 10 p.m. as a closing time in November, but Johnson County opted out of it and let their bars stay open until midnight.
The new order, issued by Dr. Allen Greiner, chief medical officer, will allow bars and restaurants to serve the public until midnight and to stay open until 12:30 a.m., starting at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13.
According to a UG spokesman, Mayor David Alvey played an important role in facilitating the meeting with business representatives.
“We had a very productive meeting late last week and I appreciate the time and valuable input we received from business owners, Chamber representatives and public health officials who participated,” Mayor Alvey said. “Our goal is to find ways to help Wyandotte County businesses operate and succeed during these challenging times, while doing our utmost to contain the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”
“Wyandotte County business owners have gone to great lengths to comply with and follow health protocols since the beginning of the pandemic – and I’m pleased they’ll be able to expand their service hours in a safe and controlled manner. As such, we are relying on bar and restaurant owners and managers to work diligently to enforce measures that will mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19 in their establishments,” Alvey said in the news release. “To the extent employees and patrons continue to mask up, maintain social distancing, disinfect, and limit gatherings, the relaxation of these orders can be accommodated – encouraging business activity and protecting public health. Each of us must strive to neither get, nor give the coronavirus.”
After the Health Department issued its order Nov. 20 restricting hours, Jackson County and Kansas City, Missouri enacted similar measures based on public health officials’ recommendations. The differences in hours in other areas in the region created more inconsistencies, according to the UG. The new order is more consistent with bar and restaurant protocols currently in place in most neighboring counties, according to the UG.
Some of the provisions of the new health order:
• Restaurants, bars and taverns must still restrict customer capacity to no more than 50 percent of building capacity
• Businesses must close their doors by 12:30 a.m. and remain closed until at least 6 a.m. each day. Restaurants can operate between 12:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. for drive through or delivery services only.
• Patrons must remain seated to the greatest extent possible, and all patrons must be masked except when actively eating or drinking.
• Parties of guests (whether indoors or outdoors) are limited to no more than eight people.
• Guest parties must be socially distanced at least six feet apart.
The Health Department also recently modified a local health order for schools, allowing added flexibility in an effort to keep more students in the classroom, according to the UG spokesman. Based upon data now available, public health officials saw a way to work with school leaders to restore some normal activities that had previously been restricted, according to the UG. The Health Department plans to continue reviews and evaluations.
The new bar and restaurant health order is online at https://alpha.wycokck.org/files/assets/public/health/documents/localhealthofficerorder011221.pdf.