In order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Crawford County, a new health order was issued Aug. 28 by Linda Bean, Crawford County deputy health officer, and approved by Jeremy Johnson, Crawford County vice chair.
Order No. 2 will change how businesses, and more specifically how bars and restaurants operate.
“What we don’t want is to continue to go unmitigated and have people not follow the recommendations that we’ve been saying all along, and have a huge surge, bigger than the one we’ve already seen,” County commissioner Jeremy Johnson told KAOM News.
The new order will apply additional restrictions to businesses that are open.
All bars must close at midnight, and all dine-in service at restaurants should end at midnight, with all customers leaving the premises by 12:30 a.m. All restaurants and bars will be limited to seated areas only, and the service and consumption of food and drink must take place at a seated table. All seated parties must be placed at least six feet apart. The consumption of food and drinks at the counter, bar, or in standing-only areas will be prohibited. Dance floors will also be closed. Requiring customers to eat and drink at a table is intended to aid in COVID-19 contact tracing. Additionally, businesses are recommended to screen all employees before their shift begins.
Any persons violating and failing to comply with any of the requirements in the order, will, upon conviction, be fined up to $100 for each offense. Businesses failing to comply with any of the requirements may face further limitations of business service and the possible closure of that business.
“Actions taken so far have demonstrated some success in flattening the epidemic curve to prevent overwhelming our local healthcare system’s ability to care for the number of residents who might develop severe symptoms,” Bean said in the health order. “With full community cooperation, this proactive health Order No. 2 may minimize the impact of COVID-19 on our Crawford County community.”
The new order has been met with varying opinions from students on the effectiveness it will have.
Caroline Doel, senior in communication, believes that although it is not ideal, the new order is necessary.
“…To ensure safety of the community, as well as keep campus open, I think it (the health order) is what is best,” Doel said. “I think the new regulations are the best way to keep businesses open while still being safe.”
Jillian Sinosa, junior in nursing, also believes the new order is necessary to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“I think this new order is 100 percent necessary due to the fact of witnessing many classmates and peers still going to parties every weekend and seeming to not take it seriously,” Sinosa said. “So, I am actually very glad they are promoting more safety measures. It will only continue to help our community and work to prevent the university from closing too early. This will help to flatten the curve and slow down the rate of students testing positive and for those having to quarantine from coming too close in contact with their peers.”
For other students, they believe Order No. 2 is late coming.
“I honestly think that the bars shouldn’t have been opened so soon,” said Francesca Ramirez, junior in communication. “It’s one of the places with higher risk of infections because of the amount of people that go there. Or, at least, they should have implemented these regulations earlier.”
Michael Mika, senior in finance, believes that the order is necessary, but that it won’t be effective in solving the problem of the spread of the virus.
“I don’t feel too great about it because I think it’s too late to be implementing this change,” Mika said. “I see the bars in Manhattan (Kan.) and they have the same regulations and have had these regulations since May and people are still not social distancing and not even wearing a mask. It is not enough of a change to make myself say, ‘This will help and solve the problem.’ People are still going to have house parties.”
For Sinosa and Doel, they remain optimistic that the new order will be effective.
“I think these measures are reasonable and practical,” Sinosa said. “I think they will be effective if we all do our part, hold each other accountable, and report when necessary. It is all a team effort.”
Additionally, Doel hopes the order will “remind people to be more cautious when they are in public.”