Kansas City, Kansas, police have launched a hotline on Thursday to report businesses that are not compliant with the local COVID-19 stay-at-home order.
The stay-at-home order went into effect on Tuesday, March 24, in Wyandotte County.
Currently, according to Nancy Chartrand, public information officer for the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department, all businesses in Wyandotte County are compliant with the order, as far as the police know. She added that could change after they receive more hotline calls.
Police have received some past calls in which the callers did not understand the order and didn’t realize the businesses were listed as “essential businesses” that could stay open, she added, in a telephone interview.
One of those instances was Nebraska Furniture Mart, which is allowed to stay open under the “essential business” supplying needed goods and services, but has chosen to close its doors on Friday evening for the betterment of the community, she said. The store is changing to online and phone sales, with outside pickup and delivery available.
Some “nonessential” businesses have closed their doors in Wyandotte County, while other businesses, such as restaurants, have changed to carryout only.
Also, the “stay-at-home” ordinance allows anyone, essential business or not, to work on business at their own homes.
The ordinance that was passed applies not just to businesses, but also to nonprofit organizations and individuals. It also prevents gatherings of 10 or more people.
While the ordinance is called “stay-at-home,” it allows people to get out to the grocery stores, hardware stores, pharmacies, medical appointments and other activities. It allows people to go out for walks and exercise, also.
If officers see a group of 10 or more people gathering in the community, the officers’ first priority will be to educate the persons, Chartrand said.
The situation with the stay-home order is something brand new, something the community has not experienced before, and the police understand it may be confusing, she said. Officers will tell people it isn’t a healthy situation to gather in large groups, it increases their risk of being exposed to the virus and also could expose someone else, she said.
Officers also have bilingual educational cards on COVID-19 that they will hand out to people, in case some people may not be aware of the situation, she said. It’s possible some residents may not have good information because of language barriers, she added.
The police department’s role is to enforce the ordinances, she said, and it has the ability to enforce them. They are in constant contact with the health department, she added.
Chartrand also wanted the public to know that the hotline number is for Wyandotte County only, not for businesses anywhere else.
According to the police department, residents may report any business or individuals that they believe are not complying with the “stay-at-home” order, by calling the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department’s special reporting line. The hotline number is 913-225-4788.
The phone line will be in operation from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. At other times, calls can be made to the police department’s non-emergency number at 913-596-3000, where residents may leave their name, telephone number, address of the business or individual who is believed to be noncompliant, a contact name for the business, and the nature of the perceived violation, according to police.
According to police, while they can enforce the order, they are asking for the business community to self-comply and eliminate the need for enforcement. If a complaint is received, officers will reach out and have a conversation to explain the “stay at home” order and answer questions in the hope of voluntary compliance, according to police. If an owner refuses to comply, a citation will be issued, according to a news release from police.
The police department listed examples of essential business as:
• Child care facilities
• Government operations
• Pharmacies, health care supply stores, and health care facilities
• Grocery stores
• Construction only to the extent that they provide services necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences or other essential businesses or are involved in health care operations, essential infrastructure or essential government functions
• Gas stations and auto repair facilities
• Garbage collection
• Hardware stores, plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences and other essential businesses
• Educational institutions, for the purposes of facilitating distance learning
• Laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers
• Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, and goods directly to residences
The complete list of essential businesses also includes the restaurants open for drive-through, delivery and carryout and not for dine-in; businesses that supply products needed for people to work at home; other businesses that supply essential businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate; taxis and other private transportation providers for essential activities and purposes authorized in the order; home-based care for seniors, adults and children; residential facilities and shelter for seniors, adults and children; professional services, such as legal or accounting services, when necessary to assist with legally mandated activities; businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes; and the news and media services. The complete list, with more detail, is at https://www.wycokck.org/WycoKCK/media/Health-Department/Documents/UG_EMERGENCY_HEALTH_ORDER_STAY_AT_HOME.pdf.
Owners who do not see their business listed should read the stay at home health order at wycokck.org/COVID-19 and exercise judgment that will keep them, their employees, and the community safe, according to police. The police are on social media on Facebook @KCKPolice.