Riley County Local Health Officer Julie Gibbs has issued Local Health Order No. 16. It will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday and will remain in effect until amended, superseded, or rescinded. With full community cooperation this proactive public health order may minimize the impact of COVID-19 on the Riley County community.
One of the biggest changes will be the time frame for the new order. Local Order 16 does not have an expiration date. It will remain in place until the data indicates that a change is needed. The safety measures are designed to be long-term solutions.
The new order provides opportunity for mass gatherings of greater than 50 individuals, but less than 2,000, through a permit process. Anyone who wishes to host an event or gathering of more than 50 people must fill out a request form at https://www.rileycountyks.gov/FormCenter/Health-Department-Forms-7/Request-for-an-Event-Larger-than-50-Peop-195 at least 14 days prior to the event. Strict safety measures will need to be in place for a gathering to be approved.
For the purpose of this order, regularly held church services are not considered to be events and are therefore exempt from this requirement.
Safety precautions for gatherings or events will include mandated social distancing, face coverings, and at least 1 person assigned to maintain enforcement of safety measures per every 50 participants. A committee including medical personnel, public officials, and representatives from the business community will evaluate the request and make recommendations for approval. Emergency Operations Center Command Staff will provide final approval of requests. No events or gatherings of more than 50 people will be allowed in Riley County without a mass gathering permit.
Large venues of more than 2,000 person capacity shall remain closed. This includes both indoor and outdoor venues.
Under Local Order 16, all restaurants and bars are limited to seated areas only. This includes patios. Service or consumption of food or drinks at a counter/bar or in standing-only areas is prohibited. Patrons who are waiting for tables may not sit at counter tops or wait inside the establishment.
All seated parties at bars and restaurants must be placed at least 6 feet apart from other seated parties. When that is not feasible, a barrier, such as plexiglass or other partition shall divide booths or tables. Buffet-style restaurants are still allowed to operate, but customers must sit at tables or booths to consume food or drinks. Dance floors, including but not limited to temporary spaces obtained by removing tables or other objects for the purpose to allow people to dance, shall be closed.
Bars and restaurants are still required to stop service by midnight and customers must clear the premises by 12:30 a.m. They are also required to continue screening each employee for symptoms prior to the start of each shift and be able to produce screening logs if asked by health department staff.
“Business requirements focus on bars and restaurants because those establishments are high-risk and are still a source of virus spread in the community,” said Local Health Officer Julie Gibbs. “We want to make it possible to functionally and practically social distance in a business that is designed to have people congregate close together, rather than be forced to shut those businesses down. We want to give them the opportunity to continue providing service in a way that also protects public health.”
RCHD staff will begin visually inspecting bars and restaurants for proper table spacing and compliance with other aspects of the order when they visit to check employee screening logs. The Riley County Police Department is available to assist if needed.
“We are planning to have conversations with business owners as they adjust to the new requirements,” said Riley County Police Department Assistant Director Kurt Moldrup. “Education will be the best tool for enforcement at this time.”
Order 16 requires all businesses and locations to comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019” at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html as well as industry-specific guidance from trade groups.
Read Local Health Order No. 16 at https://www.rileycountyks.gov/Archive.aspx?ADID=2758
Social distancing practices are strongly recommended:
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Maintain at least 6-ft of distance.
- Cover nose and mouth with a cloth mask in public situations, both indoors and outdoors, if it is difficult to maintain at least 6-ft of distance.
- Frequently wash hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water is not available.
- Avoid touching your face.
- People in high-risk categories are advised to continue taking extra precautions and to limit their contact with the public.