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Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, and Communities Issue COVID-19 Orders to Require Social Distancing and to Stay at Home (Sometimes)

March 23, 2020

Over the weekend and Monday morning, Missouri and the major local jurisdictions that comprise the St. Louis and Kansas City metropolitan areas issued emergency orders directing business and individual responses to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak by imposing social distancing requirements. Kansas had issued a statewide order on March 17, and Illinois had issued a statewide order on Friday, March 20.  Generally speaking, these orders close schools except for distance learning, ban activities inside bars and restaurants, ban social gatherings of more than 10 people, and encourage social distancing. The Illinois state order and many of the city and county orders require businesses and organizations to close their workplaces and workers to stay home unless they are deemed “essential” or qualify for another exemption.  Some businesses have been obtaining favorable determinations that they are “essential” from their local jurisdictions on a case-by-case basis.  Grounds for exemptions can include food manufacturing and processing, manufacturing and supply chain services for other essential businesses, construction, services to help businesses comply with laws, and many others.

Because clients, advisors, consultants, and others with whom we work are being affected so quickly by these developments, we prepared this article to provide links to the key orders and some best practices and guidance.

On Saturday, March 21, St. Louis County, the City of St. Louis, and four of the localities in the Kansas City metropolitan area (Kansas City, Missouri; the Unified Government of Kansas City, Kansas, and Wyandotte County; Jackson County, Missouri; and Johnson County, Kansas) issued orders implementing further restrictions in response to COVID-19.  After those orders were issued over the weekend, other local area jurisdictions joined to issue their own orders.  Most of these orders take effect at midnight Monday, March 23, and extend through April 23.  They share many similarities, but they are not identical.  Illinois’ order became effective March 21.

It is important to check the specifics of the orders that apply to each of your facilities.  It is also important to check associated public statements and FAQs.  These often offer clarifying statements about activities that are exempt.  Many exemptions require, or state a goal of, maintaining social distancing among employees of exempt facilities and those with whom they interact.

Generally, the local jurisdictions have said they expect businesses and individuals to police themselves.  So far, we have not heard that law enforcement authorities would take active enforcement roles.  Some of the orders delegate enforcement to local health officials.  Some local governments have invited persons who believe violations are occurring to call hotlines.  We also are aware of past natural disaster emergency declarations where social media posts drew unwanted attention to businesses that remained open in questionable circumstances.  For all of these reasons, good practice suggests that a business or organization make a considered decision about potential exemptions, document that decision, and be prepared to explain it on short notice if required.

Below are some of the key orders and associated statements issued so far.  These are subject to revision.  This is a fluid situation, and terms and determinations could change on short notice.  Spencer Fane will be issuing client updates from time to time, including reports on some of these specific orders.

State of Missouri: Order

Jackson County, Missouri: Order and FAQs

City of Kansas City, Missouri: Order,  Public Statement, and FAQs

Clay County: Missouri: Order

City of Belton, Missouri: Order and FAQs

Platte County, Missouri: Order

City of St. Louis, Missouri: Order

St. Louis County, Missouri: Resource Page

State of Kansas: Order

Unified Government of Kansas City, Kansas, and Wyandotte County: Order and Public Statement

Leavenworth County, Kansas: Order

Johnson County, Kansas: Order

State of Illinois: FAQs

This post was drafted by Jessica Merrigan and Jim Price, attorneys in the Kansas City, MO office of Spencer Fane LLP. For more information, visit