By Joe Patton: (UPDATE: The governor has now extended the Kansas Stay Home Order to May 3) If you listen to the news, it’s Armageddon. At Patton and Patton, Personal Injury Lawyers, we don’t believe in doom and gloom. Because of the Stay Home Order, our people are working remotely, but we are here for you. We answer questions. We are proactive.
Control what you can control. We have been through many crises; we will get through this one by working together. We will not only survive, but as a community, working together, we will thrive. As Andy Stanley said, “When they tell the stories of this time, let our stories be stories worth telling.”
Toward this end, we offered on our Facebook page, facebook.com/PattonAndPatton, to answer questions – without charge – about the Local Emergency Order, which was adopted last week and extends to April 26th. Later the Governor issued Executive Order #20-16 (https://governor.kansas.gov/newsroom/executive-orders) which supersedes the local Order. The new Stay Home Order took effect on March 30th and continues to April 19th.
Religious gatherings are exempt under the State Stay Home Order, but would not be after April 19th under the County Order, unless the Governor extends her Order. (UPDATE: In a revision of the state Stay Home Order on April 7, religious gatherings – including funerals – were limited to 10 or fewer people, and required social distancing and proper hygiene. The next day, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said the revision likely violates freedoms protected by the Kansas Constitution, and advised law enforcement officers to stand down from enforcing it. Later in the day the Legislative Coordinating Council voted 5-2 to rescind the governor’s order. Then on Saturday April 11, the Kansas Supreme Court made a decision that the LCC did not have the authority to to so, thus reinstating the governor’s order. It is still unclear if the order pertaining to religious gatherings is constitutional, including the fines and jailing of those who disregard the order.) Some of the language in the two documents conflict, many of the terms are undefined. As of this writing, the Governor alone has issued 16 Orders. So it’s a confusing time. We can help. I list below the questions I received and the answers below. These answers are based on the Order in effect at the time of this writing, March 30th, 2020. Send other questions to me at email@example.com. Let me know how I can help you. I will answer your questions without charge.
As I write this, my mind goes back to my childhood Sunday School Class when Mrs. Parks taught us a little song, about when the rains came down, and floods came up, “but the house on the rock stood firm,” complete with hand motions. Thank you, Mrs. Parks, you were molding my soul for a time such as this.
God Bless and Stay Safe. I am praying for you all.
What does the Order say?
The Order directs people to stay home unless they are leaving home for essential activities.
Can I go to work?
Yes, if you are involved in an essential function. The Governor’s Stay Home Order lists the vital activities in what she calls the Kansas Essential Function Framework list (KDFF).
What are the other reasons I can leave home?
The Governor orders you to stay at home unless you are seeking food, medicine, household necessities, medical care, caring for children, family members, pets, caring for a vulnerable person in another location, engaging in an outdoor activity with social distancing or working in an activity listed in the KEFF list.
Does the stay at home order affect parenting plans? I have heard of several situations where one parent is keeping children from the other without discussion and causing a lot of turmoil.
No. Caring for children is one of the reasons you can leave home. Generally, you should follow the court-ordered parenting plan, although the parents can agree to make changes in the best interest of the child.
Do you have anything in print we can carry?
No, you do not have to carry special papers.
I clean homes for a living. Can I continue to do that? I am a necessity for a lot of folks around town.
My Significant Other works in Holton on Saturdays at a liquor store, and he’s concerned as to whether he can travel to Holton from here to go to that job, since the lockdown has taken effect. Does either one of us need papers or special permission to go to work now?
He can go to work at the liquor store. The KEFF says the retail sale of alcoholic beverages is essential. No, you don’t need papers or special permission.
Can we go to the Post Office and bank during the Stay at Home Order?
Yes, although it is a little unclear under the Governor’s Stay Home Order. Mail and Banking services, however, are allowed under the KEFF list.
Can I continue to do business in KC area? I’m from out of town, and I pick up furniture and take it to an auction?
No, unless yours is an essential function under the Governor’s Stay Home Order.
Can I visit a friend in the KC area checking on them (they are godparents)?
If you are going on a social visit, then the answer to your question would probably be no. If your visit is to care for a vulnerable person at a different location, then yes.
My daughter is currently staying with us. She planned to finish moving part of her belongings stored here this weekend or soon. Doubt if her moving company could do it. Could we move the refrigerator and a few things?
Yes, assuming you are picking up household necessities.
If we had our son pick up a grocery item, could he stay for supper?
Yes, there are no restrictions on private family gatherings.
If I have a very small team to go into the church to do online sermons from the church, is that ok? No more than 8 total people to run cameras, computers, and worship, all located outside of 10 feet from one another from 9:30 until 12 on Sundays.
Yes. (The State order, as revised, says that religious gatherings may involve gatherings of 10 or fewer, however, individuals must maintain a 6-foot distance and adhere to other social distancing, hygiene, and public health directives.)
My brother is self-employed interior painting/small handyman jobs. He has the opportunity to work ‘outside’ on a small project. Being that he is outside (distancing) in your opinion, would he be ok to take this job, or other similar during this Order? He is no longer taking any interior jobs unless the location was empty such as a rental or new sale of a home.
I need additional information to answer this question fully. Under the Governor’s Stay Home Order, the answer would be yes if his work is related to providing housing. The Shawnee County Order says you can leave home to provide any services or perform any action necessary for construction or repair of housing, commercial construction provided you follow social distancing requirements.
Can I use parks or other public areas?
Yes. You must comply with social distancing, maintaining six-foot social distancing, and not gather in groups over ten people.
I am working in the Sales role and as a Respiratory Therapist. Do I need to carry with me paperwork for the new emergency order?
Can you tell me how you think this relates to real estate… showing homes, client actually moving from one location to another, clients hiring someone to move their piano, etc.?
The Governor’s Order Kansas Essential Function Framework list includes real estate services. The Shawnee County Order Essential services also included real estate services.
I have a friend who works for a flooring company, could her business stay open as they provide services for builders?
Maybe. The Governor’s Stay Home Order Kansas Essential Function Framework list includes businesses that provide metal and material, without a definition of these terms.
Can I go over to a friend’s place for dinner as long as not too many people are gathered together?
No. The Governor’s Stay Home Order explicitly states that it doesn’t prohibit private family gatherings. Your friends would be allowed to leave home for an outdoor activity provided the gather was not more than 10. Otherwise, the Governor orders you to stay at home unless seeking household necessities, medical care, caring for children, family members, pets, or caring for a vulnerable person in another location.
Can I get takeout food and coffee with a friend and sit on the outside seating as long as there is no more than two people sitting 6 feet apart?
Yes, since the Order allows outdoor activities and provides for restaurants to offer carry out.
Can I go to Lowes to get material to work on my house?
Yes, if it is to obtain necessary services or supplies for you or your family or household members.
My employer considers itself essential, but the nature of my position in marketing probably doesn’t make me essential. Would I be required to go to the office, or should I abide by the stay-at-home Order?
If your employer is on the KEFF list, the Order doesn’t prevent you from going to work.
With this restriction, does that prevent me from leaving Topeka to travel to Council Bluffs to see my 83-year-old disabled mom on her 83rd birthday?
No. You can go.
Can we still camp at the state parks since they’re open? Or is that against the rules of social distancing
The Governor’s Order does not define outdoor activity but merely puts a limit of six feet from one another and a 10-person limitation on the gathering size.
I have been driving five minutes to my sister’s house, and we walk together outside, keeping our 6 feet distance, and then I go home. Will this still be allowed?
I operate out of Jefferson County, but most of my work is in Shawnee County. I install signs and furniture, mainly the interior. Should I install projects during this time frame?
Yes, if your business falls under the KEFF list.
I work in a plant that is deeming themselves essential even though that is a bit of a stretch. They are taking the cleaning seriously, but I am still afraid to go to work. Can an employee of an ” essential business” reserve the right to self-quarantine and abstain from work?
The Order, which is the subject of this article, doesn’t grant rights to employees but uses powers granted by statute to restrict individuals under certain conditions. Can you refuse to go to work? Yes. Can they fire you for being a no-show without more? Yes. Would you have legal recourse later? Maybe. That would depend on a lot of facts and law that is outside the focus of this article. I would encourage you to call the Kansas Bar Association at 1-800-928-3111, and they can refer you to a lawyer that is familiar with employment law.