Bars, nightclubs, pools, water parks among local businesses now cleared to reopen
Sedgwick County's decision that Phase Two of Kansas Governor Laura Kelly's reopening plan should be followed, but not enforced could speed up the reopening process by nearly two weeks for some local businesses. Before Tuesday when the state guidelines were orders and not recommendations, businesses including bars and night clubs were waiting at least until June 8 and the start of Phase Three to reopen.
That changes with local control.
With local guidelines in place instead of orders, public swimming pools (and water parks) and summer camps could start immediately in Sedgwick County.
Several business owners in Sedgwick County say they've been ready to reopen safely for awhile and are thankful for county leaders allowing them to do just that without having to wait until June 8.
"We are very grateful because they want to see us survive, Sedgwick County wants to see us flourish and do better and get back to where we were," Walt's East Co-owner Heather Westfall says. "And we're just... We want to be safe so everybody can keep going this way and not have to go back."
Businesses who spoke with Eyewitness News say they've already taken steps to reopen safely.
For Walt's this includes installing Plexiglas between booths, setting up hand sanitizing stations and having employees wear gloves and masks.
At their special meeting Wednesday, Sedgwick County commissioners also raised the recommended gathering limit to 20 from 15 in what was a modified version of Phase Two in Kelly's plan to reopen the state economy. Also a recommendation and not an order, the commission encourages social distancing and for people to wear masks in public.
While optimistic about the possibility of reopening sooner, the manager of Fever Night Life in Old Town Wichita says the business is taking a little extra time to prepare, using the next week and a half to bring back and train staff, along with getting needed supplies.
Fever Night Life Manager Austin Henry says the planned reopening date is June 6 and he knows patrons are ready to return.
"Friday and Saturday over the weekend, I probably had over 75 calls of people asking if we were open or when we're going to be open," he says.
With Fever Nightlife, Henry says it's worth it to make sure when they resume, they do it right.
"A stressful and lonely few months," he says of the time closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and state-level restrictions in place. "I do this every single weekend, so I'm real excited to see everyone come out."
Part of Fever Night Life's reopening plan includes using a camera that measures people's body temperature. They say that will better manage the effort of screening people coming into the club.
When Fever Night Life reopens on June 6, it will be just short of three months from when it closed due to COVID-19.
Other clubs in Old Town Wichita have posted on Facebook that they will reopen this weekend, including
When it comes to outdoor entertainment, Derby's Rock River Rapids and Wichita's Splash Aqua Park ICT are preparing to reopen over the next several days. Splash Aqua Park plans to open Saturday (May 30), with Rock River Rapids holding on until June 8.
Rock River Rapids says it will limit the number of people in the water at one time by offering two sessions per day. Only 30 percent of the occupancy will be allowed in each session.
Splash Aqua Park says only 30 people will be allowed in the park at all times and sanitizer will be sprayed on life jackets and equipment to keep people safe.