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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Bars, restaurants and more in the immediate metro are being asked to close, with some minor exceptions, for the next 15 days.
Leaders in Kansas City, Missouri; Jackson County; Johnson County, Kansas and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas have agreed to the closures.
It will affect restaurants, bars, taverns, clubs and movie theaters in those four areas, effective just after midnight March 17 for 15 days.
There is an exception for delivery, pickup and drive-thru services.
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The four jurisdictions will reevaluate on April 1.
“These decisions have not been made lightly, but this is a public health emergency,” Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr. said in a statement.
“No matter what side of the state line we’re on, we all have shared interests and a patchwork of closures and restrictions is not the best way forward for consistency and clarity. I know that because of this regional collaboration we will save lives.”
Businesses in Kansas City like Kelly’s Westport Inn, Bridgers and Johnny Kaws in Westport are already closing their doors voluntarily, but it’s no longer a choice for others.
And the unknown surrounding the coronavirus closures has some worried this could be devastating to the industry.
“Two weeks, I think a lot of them could maybe get by with it, and employees can struggle and get through that, but they’re not going to make it past the two weeks — and that’s scary,” said Tim Caniglia, owner of The Granfalloon on the Plaza.
Caniglia has been a bar owner on the Plaza since the 1990’s and said he’s never seen anything like this.
March is usually his most profitable month, and losing the March Madness crowds is already hurting the bar.
He said he’s afraid a complete shutdown could change the landscape of Kansas City entertainment for a very long time.
“The restaurant business is tough anyway. I mean, nine out of 10 of them close anyways,” Caniglia said. “So then you tell everybody whatever money you had is gone, you know, for that period of time, it’s going to drain everyone’s accounts.”
Caniglia and other restaurant and bar owners are most worried about service industry employees and how they’ll survive the drought.
“I would say nine out of 10 of my employees don’t have two weeks to three weeks worth of money saved up. They are hurting right now,” Caniglia said.
“Thousands and thousands of people are in this business, the restaurant business, and are going to have no jobs. And they’re not going to pay their bills and I’d like to know what they’re going to do for these people?”
All four areas have also banned public gatherings of more than 10 people, as of Monday. There are exceptions for government and judicial functions, health care facilities, private businesses, religious and faith-based activities, weddings and funerals.