Governor Laura Kelly announced new measures to protect Kansas families from the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus.
On Tuesday, Governor Kelly issued an Executive Order limiting mass gatherings to 10 persons. The decision was based on updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and modeling from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment that projected cases of COVID-19 in Kansas to sharply rise to a range of 300 to 900 by the end of the month.
“This is an escalating crisis, and we must make sacrifices and adjustments to ensure the safety of our neighbors,” Kelly said. “We all need to do what we can to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
“While none of us wanted to see this Executive Order further limiting the size of gatherings, it is necessary to help slow the spread of the coronavirus within our communities,” Kelly said. “We learn more about this virus every day and we are seeing serious cases in every age group – not just among our seniors. The most effective way we can slow down the spread is to stay home and practice good hygiene techniques.”
The Executive Order includes a framework counties will be required to use if local officials determine it is necessary to issue stay-at-home orders. The guidance will provide information on how to include these orders for essential infrastructure and businesses.
She also issued Executive Order #20-15, which details the Kansas Essential Functions Framework that counties will be required to use if local officials determine it is necessary to issue stay-at-home orders.
Stay-at-home orders require that residents not leave their homes unless they are engaged in activities that are essential to the health and safety of themselves, family members or friends. Essential activities include, but are not limited to, seeking medical attention, purchasing food or filling up gas tanks.
KEFF was developed with reference to national critical function guidelines established for pandemic and other disaster response efforts and provides information on how to limit sustained personal interaction while providing for the continuation of essential infrastructure and businesses. If a local authority has issued a stay-home or similar order, businesses or organizations that fit a KEFF exemption for essential functions should contact that local authority.
“These actions will ensure as much consistency as possible as local communities make their decisions around these increased protections for residents,” the Governor said.
With the vast majority of Kansas counties without a confirmed case as of today, the Governor does not plan to issue a statewide stay-at-home order at this time.
“While disruptive and unpleasant, all of the orders I have issued to date are absolutely necessary to keep Kansans safe and healthy and to prevent overwhelming our emergency rooms and our larger health care system,” Kelly said. “We’ve all got to do our part and work together to protect our families and our communities.”
In addition, Gov. Kelly announced the following Executive Orders — addressing foreclosures and evictions, tax filing deadline, waste management, driver’s license renewals and vehicle tag renewals — into effect on Monday.
Kelly rescinded Executive Order #20-06 and replaced it with Executive Order #20-10, which temporarily prohibits certain foreclosures and evictions. The EO explicitly requires that a financial hardship indirectly or directly caused by COVID-19 be the reason a homeowner or renter can’t make payments. In addition, no landlords can evict a residential tenant when all defaults or violations of the rental agreement are caused by financial hardships due to COVID-19. These measures are especially important because housing disruption inhibits the ability of the state and local communities to effectively respond to COVID-19 and the public health dangers it presents.
Kelly signed Executive Order #20-11, which prevents all Kansas waste removal providers, trash and recycling, from cancelling or suspending commercial or residential waste or recycling removal services for Kansas residences and businesses as a result of nonpayment due to significant loss of income or increase in expenses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Ensuring that waste and recycling services continue is essential to maintaining public health, especially when personal hygiene and staying at home are the primary methods for slowing the spread of COVID-19.
Kelly signed Executive Order #20-12, extending deadlines for driver’s licenses and vehicle registration renewals and regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic. All driver’s license renewals and vehicle registrations extended by this Executive Order must be completed within 60 days of the expiration of Executive Order #20-12. Many Kansans may be unable to renew their driver’s license or vehicle registration during this time, but delivery drivers and other critical employees must be able to continue critical operations and drive without fear of licensing or registration issues.
Kelly signed Executive Order #20-13, extending tax filing deadlines to July 15, 2020, and waiving any interest and penalties for returns and payments made on or before July 15, 2020. In the event the State of Disaster Emergency originally proclaimed on March 12, 2020, is lifted or expires prior to July 15, 2020, the Department of Revenue shall continue to exercise appropriate discretion to make effective the waivers of penalties and interest for payments made up to July 15, 2020. This order is intended to bring Kansas’ tax filing procedures in line with federal IRS measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The safety and well-being of Kansans is my top priority,” Kelly said. “During these trying times we need essential services to continue to function to secure our public safety and health. We also need some leniency when it comes to deadlines. These executive orders are necessary steps to help Kansas families during this crisis.”