On April 3, 2020, Governor Michael Parson announced that Missouri residents will be required to stay at home to protect the public health and prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in accordance with an order issued by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (“DHSS”) to take effect on April 6, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. CT through April 24, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. CT, unless extended. The full text of the order can be found here. Governor Parson had declared a state of emergency on March 13, 2020, and directed the DHSS to mandate social distancing and discourage social gatherings of more than ten people. However, prior to the April 3 order, Missouri was one of only a few states nationwide that had yet to issue a statewide stay at home order.
Pursuant to the stay-at-home order, all Missouri residents should avoid leaving their homes or places of residence unless to work, to access food, prescription medication, health care, grocery stores, gas stations, banks or “other necessities,” or to engage in outdoor activity. The order also allows travel to and from their place of worship and permits the sale and transfer of firearms. Importantly, the order mandates that, at all times (including even when engaging in the above permitted activities), individuals must practice social distancing of at least six feet, and prohibits social gatherings of more than ten people at the same place and time.
The Missouri stay-at-home order also sets forth rules applicable to essential and nonessential businesses. With regard to determining whether a business is essential or nonessential, the DHSS adopted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s definition, which can be found here.
Notably, the order does not require most nonessential businesses to shut down entirely, unlike what has recently occurred in several other states. Rather, all nonessential businesses are ordered to adhere to the limitations on social gathering and social distancing, and to ensure that good hygiene is practiced within their operations. The DHSS further encouraged residents to work from home, where feasible.
The order also requires that essential businesses engaging in retail sales to the public that remain open must limit the number of people in any particular location as follows:
- 25% or less of the business’ authorized fire or building code occupancy, as set by local authorities, for a retail location with less than 10,000 feet square feet;
- 10% or less of the business’ authorized fire or building code occupancy, as set by local authorities, for a retail location with more than 10,000 square feet.
The order does restrict operations to certain businesses and industries, “[i]n accordance with the guidelines from the President [of the United States] and the CDC.” In particular, restaurants and bars must close their doors to the public, but are still permitted to offer drive-thru, pick-up, and delivery services. Also, schools must close and remain closed for the duration of the order, but are still permitted to provide food services to students in need.
The order also provides that all state office buildings are closed to the public, but that essential state functions shall continue. This restriction, however, does not apply to the State Capitol Building during meetings or proceeds of the General Assembly.
The order is to be carried out by state and local public health authorities and does not prohibit local authorities from making additional regulations.
If you have questions on the requirements of the order or other questions with respect to your workforce related to COVID-19, please contact Reed Smith’s Labor & Employment COVID-19 Task Force.