After hearing from Joplin Health Director Ryan Talken that new coronavirus cases have remained low, the Joplin City Council voted to remove the limitation of outdoor crowd size, along with eliminating the social distancing requirements placed on restaurants and places of worship. These guidelines are outlined in the City’s Response and Recovery Plan that was put in place at the onset of the pandemic in spring 2020.
During the March 1 Council meeting, Talken provided various statistics including newly reported cases were down; hospitalizations have been decreasing, and the number of people receiving vaccinations has increased.
The Council discussed the current statistics as it relates to guidelines noted in Phase 2, Step 4 of the Plan, Members noted that outdoor crowd size had been a question from organizations planning activities for upcoming spring and summer months. Members voted unanimously to lift the outdoor crowd limitation. Another discussion ensued regarding the decreased number of patrons who could be dining inside restaurants due to the social distancing regulation. Churches and places of worship were also mentioned; members often govern themselves sitting away from others during service, but because of space limitations congregation numbers have significantly decreased. A motion was made to eliminate the social distancing. A majority vote of 6 in favor and 3 opposed removed the social distancing requirements that had been in place for restaurants and places of worship. These changes are effective immediately.
The City’s mask mandate had been allowed to expire over the weekend. Mayor Ryan Stanley encourages people to continue practicing safe measures as appropriate, noting that these habits have seemed to help reduce new cases.
The mask ordinance is a document independent of the City’s Response and Recovery Plan. Currently the City is in Phase 2 Step 4 of the plan. Exhibits in the recovery plan outline mask requirements for restaurants and personal service businesses such as salons and barber shops. The public is reminded that businesses may establish their own guidelines, or some may be directed by a federal agency or their corporation’s policies during the pandemic. This includes the Joplin Regional Airport and Joplin’s public transportation service with MAPS and Sunshine Lamp Trolley.