People will not be allowed on dance floors and must remain seated at bars, patios and restaurants under new rules that go into effect Thursday.

Julie Gibbs, director of the Riley County Health Department, issued a new health order Tuesday.

“With this new order, we are keeping people seated, reducing the amount of contact and thereby reducing the risk of spread,” Gibbs said in a Wednesday email to The Mercury.

This order requires bars and restaurants to close at midnight, consistent with previous rules, and will now prohibit standing-only areas. People must vacate bars and restaurants by 12:30 a.m.

The new order does not have an expiration date and continues until data suggests officials can make a change, according to the order. These rules are in effect to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“We believe it will help to stop the spread by eliminating those high-risk activities like congregating at the bar and dancing, usually done without wearing masks,” Gibbs said.

Groups of people must be six feet apart from one another. If restaurants cannot maintain this distance, glass or other dividers must be placed.

“This will automatically reduce capacity at bars given the fact all patrons must be seated and tables must be six feet apart,” Gibbs said.

If people are waiting on a table in an establishment, they must wait outside.

The Riley County Health Department will monitor establishments to make sure businesses are following these rules.

The rule creates a new requirement for a permit for gatherings of more than 50 people, but less than 2,000. Gatherings of more than 2,000 people are prohibited. People must apply for the permit 14 days before the event. However, church services, those held regularly, are exempt from this portion of the mandate.

Large indoor and outdoor venues that can hold more than 2,000 people must remain closed. Bishop Stadium, where Manhattan High plays its home football games, can seat 4,000.

Bill Snyder Family Stadium has a capacity of roughly 50,000. K-State’s first home football game is currently scheduled for Sept. 5.

New cases

Riley County confirmed 13 new cases of the coronavirus Wednesday, officials said.

The total number since the pandemic began is 441. Of those, 101 are active, 336 are recovered and four people have died after testing positive.

There are three positive patients and one person under investigation for the virus at Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Manhattan, officials said. None of them are on a ventilator, officials said.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) reported 26,870 cases, 1,700 hospitalizations and 349 deaths statewide Wednesday.

That was up 698 cases, 56 hospitalizations and 14 deaths from Monday. KDHE releases data Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Geary County had 177 cases while Pottawatomie County had 107 Wednesday, according to KDHE. That was up one case in Geary County and zero in Pottawatomie County from Monday.