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Nick’s Picks: Reopening Week Begins… Now

Our Lives Take First Halting Steps Toward the New Normal

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Above image credit: "Kansas City Week in Review" host Nick Haines. (John McGrath | Flatland)

Starting today, Johnson and Wyandotte counties start opening back up. And in the case of Johnson County, that includes restaurants.  All eateries in the county can now offer dine-in service, as long as the tables are 6 feet apart and parties are limited to no more than 10 people.  

Wyandotte County is holding off on allowing restaurants to reopen, at least for now. 

But on the Kansas side, retail and commercial businesses can reopen as long as they maintain social distancing. Gatherings will remain limited to no more than 10 people. That restriction applies to funerals and weddings. Churches and other places of worship can hold services with more than 10 people present, as long as there is social distancing between families.

Jackson County also is opening up today.  In parts of the county outside of the limits of Kansas City, stores, restaurants and bars that serve food will be allowed to operate as long as they follow social-distancing practices.  And unlike in in Johnson County, barber shops and hair and nail salons will be allowed to open by appointment only.

KC’s Reopening Details

Today, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas will offer more detail on plans to relax the city’s stay-at-home order set to go into effect on Friday. According to our reporting friend Micheal Mahoney from KMBC 9 News, Lucas may walk back parts of his recently announced 10-10-10 plan. 

Currently restaurants can only open with 10% occupancy. But on KCPT’s “Kansas City Week in Review” program, Mahoney claimed the mayor is negotiating with the restaurant association on a more relaxed policy that will allow them to bring in more customers, as long as they meet social distancing requirements.

This Friday, bars, gyms, museums and even the Kansas City Zoo is set to open.

Big Reopening Question

Just because a business is allowed to open doesn’t mean that it will. Some business owners have said they will slowly start allowing customers into their stores, or will wait longer before opening their doors at all. 

Many businesses also are imposing their own restrictions. Some like Costco, Menards and Whole Foods are requiring customers to wear face masks. Others are making it optional. 

Masked, or Not?

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson drew media scrutiny last week for declining to wear a face mask while touring reopened businesses. The governor says: “I think it’s up to the individual. I don’t think it’s the government’s role to mandate who wears a mask and who doesn’t.” 

Could Prairie Village be the first city in the metro to require you to wear them? The Johnson County city is preparing to vote on an ordinance requiring face coverings in all buildings that cater to the public. 

Meanwhile, starting this week, Wyandotte County is imposing a mandatory face covering to ride the bus. 

Funeral for Slain Officer

Funeral services are set for Wednesday for Overland Park police officer Mike Mosher, who was killed while pursuing a hit and run suspect.  A private service is planned at the Overland Park Convention Center. Following the funeral, the public is invited to observe a walking procession for officer Mosher that will include an honor guard, bagpipers and other traditional law enforcement honors. 

Nursing Home Hot Spots

Nursing homes have been at the epicenter of the coronavirus in our metro. A large number of the area’s COVID-19 deaths have come from residents at long-term care facilities.

Now Missouri lawmakers are pushing a bill to shield them from lawsuits. It’s one of the last pieces of business still to be decided before state lawmakers prepare to wrap up their legislative session this week. 

Also on the agenda is a plan to toss Clean Missouri, a new redistricting plan voters approved less than two years ago. 

Meanwhile, Kansas lawmakers have yet to return to work. They now plan to hold a one-day session May 21. 

Drivers Licenses

Starting on Tuesday, Kansas driver’s license offices are set to reopen. So if you’re a teen driver trying to get your license for the first time, you finally can. According to a news release from the Kansas Department of Revenue, you’ll need to schedule an appointment online in advance of your visit.

Church Versus State

Will we get a ruling this week on whether area churches can open without attendance limits? Abundant Life Baptist Church in Lee’s Summit has sued Jackson County, alleging its reopening plans discriminates against religion. 

The suit filed in federal court claims Jackson County blocks churches from having more than 10 worshippers at one time while retail stores, restaurants and bars are restricted by occupancy level. 

Need a Job?

The KC Career Network has pulled together employers from around the metro who are desperate for help. There are more than 5,000 jobs available right now from H&R Block to the Dairy Farmers of America, Cerner Corp. to the Kansas City Public School District

It’s amazing what some companies are actually doing to try and recruit new employees. Home Depot is now bumping up pay by $100 a week and all full-time employees are getting an extra two weeks of paid time off.  Employees over 65 get six weeks of paid vacation.  And the company will buy back any hours you don’t use at the end of the year. 

Calling 911 

Local health officials are warning of a new pandemic threat — people dying because they’re not calling 911. Johnson County Med Act is reporting a sharp drop in ambulance calls as the public gets wary of going to a hospital. 

Where’s the Beef? 

First it was toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Now local grocers on both sides of state line limiting how much meat you can buy.

Food processing plants have been hit hard by the coronavirus, where workers often share close quarters. About 400 workers have tested positive for the coronavirus at Triumph Foods in St. Joseph alone. One plant worker has died. 

No Pools

More area cities are expected to announce this week they’re closing their swimming pools for the entire season. Independence, Prairie Village and Roeland Park have already done so. Overland Park is also leaning towards that decision. The city council will make the final call at its next meeting. 

Live Music 

You can’t go to a concert in person right now, but local music lovers are getting the next best thing. It’s called KC Bands Together and it’s two nights of live performances from some of the area’s best independent musicians. 

Starting at 8 p.m. Friday on 90.9 The Bridge’s Facebook page you can experience live sets from the living rooms of The Elders, Radkey, Hembree, Calvin Arsenia, Victor & Penny and many more. 

Check out the details here.

KC Bands Together program

Nick Haines tracks the week’s local news Friday at 7:30 on KCPT’s primetime public affairs program, “Kansas City Week in Review.

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