Springfield, Greene County leaders loosen some restrictions on stay-at-home order
In a joint news conference Tuesday morning, Springfield and Greene County leaders announced easing some stay-at-home restrictions while also extending the overall order through May 3.
Springfield Mayor Ken McClure said many businesses previously deemed “non-essential” will be allowed to take orders via telephone or the Internet. Those businesses will also be allowed to fulfill the orders through shipping, delivery, or curbside pickup, effective immediately.
The amendments do not allow service-based businesses such as hair or nail salons to open to customer appointments, but does allow them to sell products through the approved delivery means.
Those measures had been reserved for “essential” businesses starting with the city and county’s stay-at-home order which went into effect March 26.
"Today marks another move that protects the public's health while moving us toward recovery," Springfield-Greene County Health Director Clay Goddard said, referring to the changes as a "half-step" toward reopening.
The news came as great relief for places like Flowerama, a 22 year staple in south-central Springfield who'd be closed for a month. The floral shop could have stayed open without in-store customers because of online, phone, and delivery orders, but they were deemed non-essential and had to shutter its doors.
However, when they got the news today, they were open within two hours.
"It's been challenging because we feel like there's not been a real solid definition of essential and non-essential," explained store manager Rcena Maness. "We had a hard time figuring out where we fit into that. And while we are so thankful that we are open today, it was very abrupt."
McClure was careful to stress these amendments do not indicate a completion to the role the community plays in social distancing and following local and statewide orders.
“I heard a great analogy… equating this situation with not finishing a round of antibiotics,” McClure said. “You’re supposed to finish the complete round even though we may feel better after the first few days… a relapse can happen and many times it is worse.”
McClure said businesses such as hair salons could potentially reopen in early May, but the city, county, and state need to analyze more data before that happens.
“It’s our hope that we can be able to open just as many businesses in a variety of types within certain guidelines by May 4,” McClure said.
Goddard noted he was “again becoming a broken record,” saying distancing measures are working, but they cannot be rushed.
Goddard reported the county has seen 92 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 38 “active” cases.
“This illness is not gone,” Goddard said.
City and county leaders applauded the community for largely abiding by the stay-at-home orders.
"Every single person plays a role in this recovery," McClure said.
Asked about planned stay-at-home protests Tuesday in Springfield and Jefferson City, McClure said he respects the right of free speech, but urged people to be responsible.
“The worst thing we could do right now is to totally open up. This would increase the risk,” McClure said. “Those that want to open up, I totally understand. It hurts, but we have to do this in the right way.”
City spokesperson Cora Scott said people who violate the stay-at-home order in Greene County could face 180 days in jail and/or $1,000 in fines, but Soctt mentioned there have only been a few citations issued.
Greene County Presiding Commissioner Bob Dixon added there will almost certainly be new cases of COVID-19 in the future, despite some loosened restrictions.
“Rarely can one say that they saved a life by doing less, but in this case, being in the community less and at home more has undoubtedly saved lives,” Dixon said.