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Statewide “Stay Home” Order Issued in Kansas

Statewide “Stay Home” Order Issued in Kansas

March 28, 2020

Update [March 31, 2020]: The Governor's office has created a useful Kansas Essential Functions FAQ page which answers several relevant questions for businesses and individuals. It can be found at the following link: https://governor.kansas.gov/kansas-essential-functions-faq/

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has issued a statewide "stay home" order related to the COVID-19 outbreak, effective March 30, 2020. The order will remain in effect until rescinded, until April 19, 2020, or until the statewide State of Disaster Emergency expires, whichever is earlier. It could also be extended if circumstances warrant extension. The order is intended to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Kansas and provide uniformity for all Kansas counties.

Several Kansas counties have issued "stay home" orders which differ in their definitions of "essential activities" and "essential business." The statewide order supersedes those county orders and provides consistent standards statewide.

The full text of Gov. Kelly's Executive Order No. 20-16 can be read here.

Under Executive Order 20-16, Kansans are directed to stay home unless performing one of the following essential activities:

  • Obtaining food, medicine and other household necessities;
  • Going to and from work at a business or organization performing an essential function as identified in the Kansas Essential Function Framework;
  • Seeking medical care;
  • Caring for children, family members or pets, or caring for a vulnerable person in another location;
  • Engaging in an outdoor activity, provided individuals maintain a distance of six feet from one another and abide by the 10-person limitation on gathering size.

Those Kansans who live and work in counties subject to prior stay-home orders, like Johnson, Sedgwick, Douglas, and Wyandotte Counties, will want to review the requirements and exemptions in the new statewide order to make sure they are in compliance. The "essential businesses" exemptions in the original county orders do not follow the same format as the "essential function" list in the state order. The identification of businesses deemed "essential" in both the county and state orders are similar but a close review is recommended for all businesses.

A few differences between the state and county orders are immediately apparent. In the county orders, no exemption existed for in-person attendance of church services or sellers of firearms. The Kansas order specifically identifies "[m]anufacture or sell firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition" and "[p]erform or attend religious or faith-based services or activities" as "essential functions," and appears to exempt them from the stay-home directive. The county and state orders both exempt child-care facilities as "essential." However, the county orders provided certain requirements for child-care businesses, including limiting care to groups of 10 children or fewer per room. The state order does not contain that restriction.

The Kansas statewide order bases its list of businesses performing essential functions on the Kansas Essential Function Framework, outlined in Executive Order No. 20-14 and developed with reference to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) critical function guidelines. While the DHS list is only advisory, it may be helpful to companies trying to discern their exemption status under the Kansas order. Additionally, those with questions about their "essential function" status under the Kansas stay-home order are encouraged to email their questions to KEFF@ks.gov.

Gov. Kelly's order prohibits local jurisdictions from issuing or enforcing any "stay home" orders which are more restrictive or less restrictive than the state order, until the state order has expired or been rescinded. After the state order expires or is rescinded, the local jurisdictions can resume enforcement of or issuance of their own COVID-19-related orders.

If you have questions about your company's "essential function" status or what the Governor's order means for your business, Martin Pringle's business attorneys are available to consult.

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