CAMDEN COUNTY, Mo. — On March 31, three days before Governor Mike Parson issued his Stay-Home Missouri order, Camden County tightened their social distancing requirements further than Governor Parson's order would go. The Camden County order closed businesses offering personal services (salons, masseuses, etc), banned drinking or dining at local restaurants/bars, limited all public and private gatherings to 10 people, and limited the number of people at a dock to 10.
But on April 23, Camden County suddenly rescinded that order, and since the news broke, the cities of Osage Beach and Camdenton have been scrambling to determine their response. On April 24, the cities have provided clarity.
Osage Beach has rescinded its ordinance that had mirrored the county order. City Administrator Jeana Woods explained the city "will follow restrictions of the County and State," with "no additional restrictions."
The city of Camdenton clarified that while they had publicly declared support for the county ordinance, they had never actually passed an ordinance enforcing the county order at the city level, so there was nothing to rescind. However, they encouraged citizens to heed the state's order, which expires at the end of Sunday, May 3.
The state order, however, is confusing, ambiguous, and seemingly self-contradictory, Camden County Health Administrator Bee Dampier says. The City of Camdenton spoke with Dampier, asking her interpretation of the state order (the state order came through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, utilizing health emergency powers, and was echoed and backed by Governor Parson). Dampier pointed out that while the state order emphasizes no businesses are required to close, it also says all people must practice social distancing (staying 6 feet apart), which would prevent businesses like salons from being able to actually do anything.
Salons, Massages, Etc.
Gov. Parson has said salons and personal care providers can reopen on May 4 with certain restrictions. But the City of Camdenton said Dampier communicated to them that she had no issue with salons reopening now, as long as employees use personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves. Local health departments are empowered to carry out the orders of the state health department, but Camdenton city officials say their impression was the Camden County Health Department was not interested in "going after" businesses that wanted to reopen, as long as they took extra precautions.
Here are the questions (in bold) Camdenton sought clarity on, and Camden County Health Administrator Bee Dampier's responses (in italics).
1. Is the Governor’s Stay at Home order still in effect in Camden County?
County Health Department Response: Yes, the Governor's order is still in effect in Camden County. No County or City government has the authority to rescind the Governor's order. He specifically addressed that with Dr Williams of the State Health Dept yesterday in his press briefing. Counties and Cities have the authority to draft orders that are MORE stringent than the Governor's order, but they cannot be LESS stringent.
2. Can hairdressers, massage therapists, nail salons, etc. be open as of this date?
County Health Department Response: This is where things are a bit contradictory. The DHSS guidance says (Remember that Dr Williams who actually signed the Governor's order is the Director of DHSS): "Do Workplaces that Do not Qualify as Essential Businesses have to close? No. Businesses that are not covered by the guidance from the CISA agency discussed in the order may remain open but must comply with the social gathering and social distance requirements of the order. This means that no more than 10 individuals can occupy a single space, this includes both employees and customers. Individuals must also maintain at least 6 feet of distance between themselves and others. Employees must also practice good hygiene and sanitation to limit the spread of COVID19." I do not know how you would maintain 6 ft distance in these jobs. Additionally, the first section of the Governor's order says the individuals are not to leave their homes except for essentials like food, medicine, groceries, work, etc. So, the businesses can be open, but the people are not supposed to go there. Quite confusing and contradictory in my mind. Honestly, I would have no problem with them doing business if they can maintain their services in this fashion.
3. Can restaurants and bars be open (Dine In) to the public as of this date?
County Health Department Response: Same DHSS guidance applies to the restaurants and bars as above. They can be open for dining in but can only have 10 people in a single space and that includes their employees. So, if they have 5 employees, they can only have 5 diners who are seated 6 ft apart (unless they are a family or group of course). They could seat 10 on their patio and 10 inside. Again though, Section 7 of the actual order says "Every person shall avoid eating or drinking at restaurants, bars, or food courts; provided, however, that the use of drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options is allowed throughout the duration of this order." Again, the businesses can be open, but the individuals are not supposed to go there. Very contradictory.
4. Can real Estate Offices be open to the public as of this date?
County Health Department Response: Real Estate offices would probably be the easiest of these. I think Real Estate is considered Essential Service by CISA due to the nationwide housing shortage. That is why building material stores and land titling services are also considered Essential. They would still be required to maintain their 6 ft social distance when they are dealing with clients, but the number of people in their offices would vary based on the size of their office and the number of people their fire code allows. Most of them are smaller and work in a more individualized manner, so I can't see that they would have a big crowd at their office.