Policy & Research


Reopening Plans for Kansas Counties: Phase One (May 14, 2020)


Reopening Plans for Kansas Counties: Phase One (May 14, 2020)


While the Governor’s Ad Astra Plan to Reopen Kansas (State Plan), effective on May 4, established a regulatory baseline for Kansas local governments relating to safety guidelines while reopening business during the COVID-19 pandemic, counties retain the ability to impose additional restrictions that are in the best interest of the health of their residents. This acknowledges the growing recognition that within a state, the situation may vary significantly across regions and individual communities.

To help understand the variety of approaches being taken across the state, KHI has produced this table summarizing the reopening orders in each of the 105 counties in Kansas during Phase One. A summary of the findings in narrative form is available as a blog post at A Kansas Twist -- Reopening Kansas (May 22, 2020).

The analysis shows that as of May 7, there were 63 counties that had implemented some elements more restrictive than the State Plan, covering 2.2 million Kansans (77 percent of the total population):

Thirteen (13) counties made changes only to the hours or services offered at county buildings and facilities, typically courthouses, libraries or county offices.

Fifty (50) counties, accounting for 55 percent of the state’s population, announced at least one significant reopening restriction beyond those in the State Plan. Three of these counties (Finney, Johnson and Wyandotte Counties) extended the entire statewide safer-at-home order that was in place prior to May 4.

The conditions in the reopening plans that differed from those in the State Plan, included one or more of the following:

Food Service (38 counties) – restrictions included prohibiting self-service food or beverages, limiting dine-in options or seating capacity, requiring reservations and compliance with COVID-related guidelines.

Playground Equipment and Picnic Tables (18 counties) – restrictions prohibiting use.

Retail/Sales Activities (7 counties) – restrictions included the number of customers in retail space, prohibiting solicitation, garage sales or yard sales, requiring curfew hours or logging customers to facilitate contact tracing if necessary

Real Estate Activities (6 counties) – prohibiting open houses or requiring masks to be worn

Miscellaneous some conditions were unique to a single county, including imposing a quarantine on individuals who travel to certain counties in Kansas with high case rates, and an enforcement provision making violation of the orders a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $2,500 and/or one year in jail.

The White House and a number of national organizations have produced guidelines to be considered as states reopen schools, businesses and society in general. KHI has produced a summary of 12 of the leading sets of guidelines presented in this side-by-side graphic, Summary of National Guidelines for Reopening the U.S.  (Download File)

NOTE: This information was collected via e-mail by the Kansas Association of Counties, searches for published orders, or announcements on social media or in a local newspaper. Counties that have announced restrictions and closures that differ from the State Plan are identified in the report. Counties may have orders in place that were not identified by this approach and therefore are not properly identified. This information will be monitored and updated periodically during the reopening process so check back regularly.

Additional Resources:

Ad Astra Plan to Reopen Kansas (“State Plan”)

Frequently Asked Questions

Industry Guidance on Reopening

The Kansas Health Institute supports effective policymaking through nonpartisan research, education and engagement. KHI believes evidence-based information, objective analysis and civil dialogue enable policy leaders to be champions for a healthier Kansas. Established in 1995 with a multiyear grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, KHI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization based in Topeka.