Missouri News

Parson issues COVID-19 social distancing order

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson answers reporters questions after a COVID-19 briefing with Hannibal leadership at Hannibal Regional Hospital in Hannibal, Mo., on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.
H-W Photo/Jake Shane
Special to The Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 21, 2020 12:01 am Updated: Mar. 22, 2020 12:04 am

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson issued a sweeping order Saturday afternoon to limit public gatherings and social interactions as the state joins the nation's intensified fight against the spread of COVID-19.

The order, which Parson posted on his Twitter account, falls short of stay-at-home orders issues in California, New York and Illinois, but it does effectively shut down much of the restaurant and entertainment industry for the next two weeks, and orders state schools to remain closed until at least April 6.

In addition to Parson's order, Hannibal Mayor James Hark strongly recommends and requests the closing of all places of public gathering, public dining rooms and social gatherings and any others with similar environments effective at 12:01 a.m. Monday.

Businesses impacted by the COVID-19 virus should seek help through the Small Business Administration online at SBA.gov or by visiting the Hannibal Chamber of Commerce or Hannibal Regional Economic Development Council's Facebook pages for a link to disaster loan assistance information and other up-to-date information from the SBA.

"We want to remind everyone that essential businesses and services will remain open including grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, drive through and curbside delivery and/or service. All essential city services will also continue, such as fire and police protection, as well as electric, water and sewer services and street and park repair and maintenance. We encourage you to continue to practice social distancing when making necessary trips to these places," Hark said in a news release.

"As the COVID-19 crisis continues to develop, this is a critical step in protecting the health and safety of Missourians," Parson said as he issued the order at 3 p.m. Saturday. Parson's order takes effect on Monday at 12:01 a.m. and is set to end on Monday, April 6, at 12:01 a.m.

The terms of his order include:

Avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people. For purposes of this order, Parsons says that social gatherings mean any planned or spontaneous event or convening that would bring together more than 10 people in a single space at the same time.

Limits on in-person service at restaurants, bars and food courts; provided, however, drive-thru, pickup or delivery options are allowed throughout the duration of this order.

Prohibiting visits to nursing homes, long-term care facilities, retirement homes, or assisted living homes except to provide critical assistance.

He ordered that schools remain closed through April 6 but does not prohibit schools from providing child care and food and nutritional services for children who qualify. Teachers and staff may enter the buildings.

Parson said his order does not prohibit people from visiting a variety of places, including grocery stores, gas stations, parks and banks, so long as necessary precautions are taken and maintained to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, including maintaining at least 6 feet distance between all individuals who are not family members.

Moreover, Parson said that for offices and workplaces that remain open, individuals shall practice good hygiene and, where feasible, work from home.

"The more that people reduce their public contact, the sooner COVID-19 will be contained and the sooner this order will expire," Parson said. "Local public health authorities are hereby directed to carry out and enforce the provisions of this order by means of civil proceedings.

"This is a serious time for our state and nation, and we must continue taking all steps necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19. The more people reduce their public contact, the sooner the virus will be contained and the sooner we can overcome this challenge.

Meanwhile, officials in Missouri's largest cities are ordering a mandatory stay-at-home rule to residents starting this week in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

St. Louis and St. Louis County authorities first announced the order, which is to begin Monday, before Kansas City officials followed later Saturday with a similar order. The order in Kansas City, Johnson County, Jackson County and Wyandotte County is set to begin Tuesday.

"The new restrictions will ensure that residents can meet their basic needs and that essential services will still be provided," St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson's office said in a news release posted on Twitter. "The new restrictions will require people to stay at home when possible."

In the Kansas City area, residents were ordered to stay home for anything other than "essential needs" which include child care, health care, grocery stores, pharmacies and delivery/carry-out-drive-thru services from restaurants.

Some information for this story was provided by the Associated Press.


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