A couple of Manhattan Area Recovery Task Force members said they don’t like that Riley County is continuing with a mandated closing time for restaurants.
Riley County Health Department director Julie Gibbs on Thursday released the latest local regulations on businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. The order maintains a daily closing time of 10 p.m. for restaurants.
Dennis Cook, executive director of the Aggieville Business Association, said during a task force meeting Thursday he did not like this mandate, which is stricter than Gov. Laura Kelly’s plan.
“As we were heading out of (phase 1) to (phase 1.5) to (phase 2), we had talked about that we were not going to add any restrictions beyond what was coming out of the governor’s office,” Cook said. “But yet we went ahead and added a 10 o’clock curfew or end-of-business day for restaurants. And that doesn’t seem to make any sense to me. I think that’s pretty unfair, and it’s pretty targeted for those types of businesses.”
He said this mandate appears to favor chain restaurants as opposed to local restaurants.
“There’s a food business and then there is a later business,” Cook said. “And that extra business is sometimes the difference between being around and staying alive, and not staying alive. I’m just not sure why we are favoring the big businesses. We’re not favoring the local businesses.
“I don’t know why that’s the one thing we’re throwing in there,” Cook continued. “It just seems like there’s a piece in here somewhere that we’re attempting to take advantage of whatever’s going on and trying to regulate alcohol sales. I don’t understand it, and I wish that we would talk about getting this restriction back off of this, from a local standpoint.”
Commissioner John Ford said he shared similar concerns and said he spoke about this issue Wednesday night with Gibbs. Ford said Gibbs told him the reason for the mandate was because the governor still has bars closed statewide.
“They wanted to keep that uniform,” Ford said.
Ford said “it doesn’t seem to be really fair across the board” because liquor stores can stay open until 11 p.m.
As of Friday, Riley County has 60 cases of the coronavirus, officials said. This marks a week since Riley County has seen a confirmed case, said Vivienne Uccello, public information officer.
Uccello said five of the 60 cases are active. One person died earlier this month from coronavrius-related causes.
Uccello said there were no positive cases and two people under investigation at Ascension Via Christi Hospital as of Friday morning.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) reported 8,958 cases, 787 hospitalizations and 185 deaths statewide, as of Friday.
That is an increase of 419 cases, 87 hospitalizations and seven deaths from Wednesday.
KDHE reported 24 cases in Pottawatomie County and 16 in Geary County. Neither county had a change in cases from Wednesday.
Because of Memorial Day, the county health department is holding its next Facebook press conference at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday.
Businesses in Riley, Geary and Pottawatomie counties can access a document with information on how to reopen businesses at the Region Reimagined website. Officials discussed this information at the Manhattan Area Recovery Task Force meeting Thursday afternoon.