Effective 12:00 a.m., March 24, 2020, residents of the Kansas City metropolitan area are prohibited from leaving their residence other than to engage in “Essential Activities.” Areas covered by these orders include Jackson County and Kansas City, Missouri, and Johnson County and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas. Although each of these areas issued separate orders, they include essentially the same provisions and prohibitions.
Essential Activities include many of those included in similar orders coming out of other jurisdictions, such as shopping for food, medicine, and other essentials, and seeking medical care. The orders restrict individuals, for the most part, from reporting to work unless the business they work for is deemed an “Essential Business” or is part of the “Essential Infrastructure” or “Essential Governmental Function.”
“Essential Infrastructure” includes the operation of utilities, power generation, gas and electric transmission and distribution facilities, water, wastewater, certain public works construction projects, airports, solid waste removal, telecommunications, sewer, oil refining, internet, and similar areas.
The orders identify numerous types of businesses in its definition of “Essential Businesses,” including:
- Healthcare operations
- Businesses that sell grocery and sanitation items, including those that deliver said items to Essential Businesses or residences
- Food cultivation, manufacturing, and distributing services
- Social service providers including shelters
- The media
- Gas stations and auto repair and supply facilities
- Financial institutions
- Hardware stores
- Businesses providing plumbing, electrical, or similar services necessary for safety, sanitation, or communication
- Mail, shipping, and delivery services
- Educational institutions in order to facilitate distance learning
- Laundry service providers, including laundromats and dry cleaners
- Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery, drive-thru or carry-out
- Businesses that provide maintenance and operations services for Essential Infrastructure
- Suppliers of products needed for people to work from home
- Personal transportation services and public transportation, including paratransit services and ride share providers
- In-home care providers as well as residential care facilities
- Professional services including legal and accounting services, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities
- Childcare providers for employees of Essential Businesses within certain proscribed guidelines.
Keep in mind, however, that falling into one of the above categories does not mean all employees are permitted to report to work. Employees will be able to report to Essential Businesses if they are required to engage in activities necessary to provide essential products and services of the Essential Business. Additionally, employees are required to practice social distancing at work, taking into consideration individuals visiting the facility, including customers waiting in line for services.
For all other than Essential Businesses, operations must cease except for the minimum basic operations (activities necessary to maintain the value of a business’s inventory, ensure security, process payroll or employee benefits, or to facilitate employees being able to work from home) and those functions performed by employees who can work from home.
Accordingly, employers should review their operations to determine if they are necessary for the safety, health and welfare of the public or infrastructure. If they are not, as many functions as possible should be performed by employees from their homes. If they are, employers should still determine the minimum number of employees necessary to report to the facility to allow those essential functions to be adequately performed while still enabling the use of social distancing.
The Kansas City area orders are in effect from Tuesday, March 24, 2020, at 12:01 a.m. until April 24, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. Failure to comply with the orders will constitute an imminent threat to public health.
To view the Jackson County Order, please click: https://www.jacksongov.org/DocumentCenter/View/6660/Jackson-County-Stay-at-Home-Order.
To view the Johnson County Order, please click: https://www.jocogov.org/sites/default/files/documents/CMO/JoCo%20Public%20Health%20Officer%20Stay%20at%20Home%20Order%203-22-20.pdf.
To view the Wyandotte County Order, please click: https://www.wycokck.org/WycoKCK/media/Health-Department/Documents/UG_EMERGENCY_HEALTH_ORDER_STAY_AT_HOME.pdf.
Employers are encouraged to prepare documentation for their Kansas City area workers to carry with them to establish they meet the above criteria. The attorneys at McMahon Berger can assist with creating the proper format for such communications.
The St. Louis employment attorneys at McMahon Berger have been representing employers across the country in labor and employment matters for over sixty years. As always, the foregoing is for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice regarding any particular situation as every situation must be evaluated on its own facts. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.