JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. | Missouri Gov. Mike Parson issue a sweeping order Saturday afternoon to limit public gatherings and social interactions as the state joins the nation's intensified fight against the spread COVID-19 – the coronavirus.
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 restaurant and entertainment industry for the next two weeks, and orders state schools to remain closed until at least April 6.
However, the state's two largest cities – St. Louis and Kansas City – are issuing restrictive stay-at-home rule, which start on Monday.
“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. on Saturday “I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for all citizens to practice social distancing and abide by this order, which is backed by intense deliberation and knowledge.”
Parson's order take effect on Monday (March 23) at 12:01 a.m. and 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 in-person service at restaurants, bars and food courts; provided, however, drive-through, pickup or delivery options are allowed throughout the duration of this order.
Parson's order prohibits visits to nursing homes, long-term care facilities, retirement homes, or assisted living homes unless to provide critical assistance.
He ordered that schools remain closed through April 6 but 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 six 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, the Kansas City Star reported on Saturday afternoon that Kansas City and its surrounding counties will be subject to a stay-at-home order effective Tuesday morning in an effort to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, Mayor Quinton Lucas announced Saturday.
The order, which will go into effect 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, requires residents of Kansas City, Johnson County, Jackson County and Wyandotte County to remain at home except for activities “essential to the health and safety” of themselves, family members or friends.
Trips to grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, doctors' office, dry cleaners, laundromat and banks will be permitted. Trips to grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, doctors office, dry cleaners, laundromat and banks will be permitted.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said that a similar order is in store for St. Louis and St. Louis County. The newspaper reported that St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced Saturday that they are enacting mandatory stay-at-home orders effective Monday to combat the spread of COVID-19.
"We have a great sense of urgency," Page said at a Saturday afternoon press conference. He said the county is braced for more cases and more death and hopes the new order will reduce both. "We must choose between saving lives and saving livelihoods.”
The St. Louis city stay-at-home order takes effect at 6 p.m. Monday. St. Louis County's begins at 12:01 a.m. on Monday. Each will last for at least 30 days; each carries a potential misdemeanor charge if violated.