KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Officials on Wednesday announced an easing of coronavirus restrictions that will allow Kansas City-area bars and restaurants to remain open later, but they cautioned that the move doesn't mean the virus poses less of a threat in and around Missouri's largest city.
Bars and restaurants in the city can stay open until midnight starting Wednesday, Mayor Quinton Lucas said during a news conference. The previous curfew aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 was 10 p.m. and was implemented in November.
Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr. said establishments can serve food and alcohol until midnight starting Thursday. He cautioned that the move was aimed at creating consistency with neighboring counties that have lesser restrictions, rather than an acknowledgement that the region hard-hit by the virus has turned the corner.
“Let me be clear — our situation has not improved over the past two months... . It is still dangerous to gather in large groups, so I urge residents to remain vigilant in their efforts to prevent the spread of the virus," White said in a statement.
Bridgette Shaffer, who heads the county's health department, also urged people to continue practicing social distancing and wearing masks. Citing the risk of in-person dining at restaurants, she said people should continue to consider options such as curbside pickup or delivery.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services on Wednesday reported 2,060 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 16 more deaths from the disease, pushing the statewide totals to 429,177 cases and 6,171 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the University of Missouri’s Columbia campus said it will give COVID-19 tests to all students who will live on campus for the spring semester, which begins Tuesday. University spokeswoman Liz McCune said 2,881 students have tested positive for COVID-19 since Aug. 19, and five required hospitalization. The university is not aware of any student deaths tied to the virus.