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Gov. Mike Parson spoke frankly Monday afternoon about the state’s order to restrict gatherings of more than 10 people in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
During his daily press briefing Monday, March 23 — this time held virtually — Parson responded to a question about how the order affects churches and businesses, specifically.
“Look, we’re not shutting any businesses down in the State of Missouri,” Parson said. “But you have to abide by the order, whatever the business is.”
He added, “it’s pretty simple” and “plain-spoken.”
“Ten people, 6 feet apart,” he said. “It’s about as simple as I can make it. And that’s why it’s so important people understand that — that we can only have 10 people in gatherings and you’re 6 feet apart, wherever you go. But businesses can still operate. Just abide by the rule, and abide by the order.”
Parson went on to say “we all have a responsibility to make sure that’s being done.”
On Saturday, Parson announced the order, restricting Missourians from gathering in numbers of more than 10 people at least until April.
“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,” he said during his daily briefing Saturday, March 21. “The more people reduce their public contact, the sooner the virus will be contained and the sooner we can overcome this challenge.”
The order went into effect Monday, March 23, and specifically restricted dining or drinking in restaurants, bars and food courts. Drive-thru, delivery or pickup at restaurants will be allowed throughout the duration of the order, which will remain in effect until 12:01 a.m. Monday, April 6.
Parson said the order could be extended.
Individuals are also prohibited from visiting nursing homes, as well as long-term retirement or assisted living facilities, unless those visits are to “provide critical assistance,” he said.
The governor added the order does not prohibit people from going to a variety of places — including grocery stores, gas stations, parks and banks — as long as necessary precautions are taken and maintained. Those measures, he reiterated, include keeping a distance of 6 feet between individuals who “are not family members.”
Schools will also remain closed, he said.
According to the order, local public health authorities have been directed to “carry out and enforce the provisions of this Order by means of civil proceedings.”
“I want to remind everyone how critically important it is to follow our order and practice social distancing, no matter how old you are,” Parson said Monday. “Even if you don’t think you are at risk personally, you are putting others at risk by not obeying the order.”
Parson said “we must all do our part” and “take this seriously.”
“This is a public health emergency,” he added.
On Tuesday afternoon, Missouri’s number of confirmed coronavirus cases climbed to 255, with at least five related deaths, according to the state’s Department of Health and Senior Services. Monday’s count had included three deaths. A fourth death was reported Monday evening in Springfield by the Springfield-Greene County Health Department. Two other deaths were reported in the St. Louis area.
No cases in Polk County had been reported yet.
Heeding the call, local organizations have continued to issue cancellations and schedule changes. Below are new updates the BH-FP has obtained. The list is not extensive. For additional notifications, refer back to the Wednesday, March 18, and Saturday, March 21, issues of the BH-FP.
Have a cancellation or change? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brighton Saddle Club: The Coggins clinic set for Saturday, March 28, has been postponed. The clinic is now planned for 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 25.
Dollar General: Stores have designated the first hour of operations each day for the shopping needs of senior customers, who are one of the groups most vulnerable to the COVID-19 coronavirus.Additionally, all stores plan to close one hour earlier than current close times to allow employees to clean and restock store shelves, as well as for their health and well-being. Stores will continue to maintain current opening hours.
Halfway High School alumni banquet: The event, originally set for April 11, has been canceled and will not be rescheduled.
Halfway Missionary Baptist Church: Polk County Missionary Baptist Association and Tri County Fifth Sunday services scheduled for March have been canceled.
Missouri Department of Conservation: MDC has closed regional offices, department headquarters in Jefferson City and all other public contact offices around the state to visitors through April 15. While MDC public offices will be closed to general visitation, offices will still be staffed. Visitors with official business will need to notify the office to gain access. MDC closed its staffed shooting ranges, nature centers, visitor centers and educational centers around the state to the public last week. MDC has also canceled its public events and programs around the state. Conservation areas, nature center trails and boat accesses remain open to the public. Hunting, fishing and trapping seasons continue as scheduled. MDC managed hunts and mentored spring turkey hunts continue as planned. For more information on MDC, to contact MDC offices, to buy permits and more, visit mdc.mo.gov.
OATS:OATS Transit will only provide essential service transportation through at leastApril 6. According to a news release, essential service transportation is defined as dialysis, doctor appointments, grocery shopping, food banks, etc. The release said several measures have been put into place to ensure safety, including routine cleaning and disinfecting of buses throughout the day and limiting rider numbers to ensure safe distances for all who board. During the COVID-19 crisis, riders should expect drivers to refrain from touching any personal belongings and packages, the release added. For more information, visit oatstransit.org/health or facebook.com/oatstransit.
Polk County Artist Association: The Saturday, March 28, monthly meeting has been canceled.
Walmart: According to the store’s social media post, the Bolivar Walmart will be open from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. until further notice. The auto center will be temporarily closed. The store will also host hour-long senior shopping events, set for an hour before the store opens on Tuesdays.
- Woods Supermarket: Shopping before 8 a.m. at all locations is reserved for seniors and other high-risk individuals. According to a letter from CEO Frank Archer posted on the company’s social media account, Woods has instituted additional measures, such as limits on key items, placing items on service counters instead of directly handing them to guests and using hand sanitizer between each guest at the register. Stores also are not allowing reusable shopping bags. Instead, all orders will be bagged in new bags supplied by the store.