(RILEY COUNTY, KS – August 17, 2020) Today the Riley County Board of County Commissioners, sitting as the Board of Health (BOH), decided in a vote of 3 to 0 to remove the restriction for large gatherings and allow venues of more than 2,000 person capacity to reopen.
“I hoped to leave the large venue restriction in place long enough to see the impact that in-person classes will have on the community,” said Local Health Officer Julie Gibbs. “The BOH decided to remove the restriction immediately. We will continue to work to ensure the safety of all individuals, and plan to have very close communication with people who manage large venues.”
Communication will include an event permit process managed by the Riley County Health Department. Requirements for any event of more than 50 people were first established on July 30 as part of Local Health Order 16 and will remain in effect.
The event permit application form asks for information about safety practices and social distancing. It also requires at least one person on site for every 50 attendees who will take responsibility for ensuring that safety guidelines are followed. Applications are reviewed by the Health Department and a committee of appointed volunteers. Please submit event permit applications at least 14 days prior to the event.
Please visit the Riley County Coronavirus web page at http://rileycountyks.gov/1857/Novel-Coronavirus-2019-nCoV to learn more or to submit an Event Request Form.
“Contact tracing investigation will help determine whether any future increases or case spikes are linked to large gatherings,” said Gibbs. “If that happens, the rules for events could change.”
RCHD hired additional contact tracing staff last month and they are prepared to deal with a large volume of new cases. If the number of new cases exceeds their capacity, normal operations at the health department will stop and staff will be reassigned to help with contact tracing.
Local Health Order No. 18 also includes a few additional changes, including clarification of some definitions.
For the purposes of this Order No. 18 the phrases and terms "public gathering,” “mass gathering," or “event” are defined as any planned or spontaneous, public or private event or convening, in which individuals are in one location and are unable to maintain a 6-foot distance between individuals (not including individuals who reside together) with only infrequent or incidental moments of closer proximity.
Additional changes include the following:
- The order strongly recommends that all employers screen employees for symptoms and travel before each shift. Previous orders mentioned bars and restaurants only, but the recommendation applies to all employers.
- Patrons at bars and restaurants can now sit and be served at bars and counters as long as they are 6 ft from other parties. The intention is for patrons to be seated, maintain distance, and remain in their seats, not for walk-up service.
The following requirements from Local Health Order 17 will remain in place:
- All service at bars and all dine-in service _at restaurants shall end at midnight and customers shall clear the premises in such bars and restaurants by 12:30 A.M.
- Drive-through, delivery, and curbside service at restaurants may continue past midnight.
- All restaurants and bars are limited to seated areas only. This includes patios.
- Service or consumption of food or drinks while standing at a counter/bar or in standing-only areas is prohibited.
- Consumption of food and beverages shall only take place at a counter or table via seated service.
- 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.
- All seated parties must be placed at least 6 feet apart from other seated parties (between tables and/or booths), or when that is not feasible a barrier such as plexiglass or other partition shall divide booths or tables closer than 6 feet.
Read the complete text of Local Health Order No. 18 on the Riley County website at https://www.rileycountyks.gov/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/2769.
The video of the 8/17/20 Board of County Commission meeting is available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4d4DFkhyAo4. Discussion of Local Health Order No. 18 begins at 2:15:45 in the video.
For more information about Riley County’s response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, visit the Riley County website at www.rileycountyks.gov/coronavirus, follow RCHD on Facebook at /Rileycountyhealthdepartment/ and Twitter @RileyCoHealth.