Business owners not yet able to reopen question fairness in governor's plan

Published: May. 15, 2020 at 11:44 PM CDT
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Business owners not yet allowed to reopen in Phase 1.5 of Kansas Governor Laura Kelly's plan to reopen the state economy, are frustrated, questioning the plan's fairness, especially so close to the point when many were expected to open their doors again.

"It's a huge impact on my business," says TJ Thomas, owner of Airstrike, cheerleading, tumble, martial arts, and group fitness center in Wichita. "This is unconstitutional. This is unconstitutional in my book that the government is telling me I cannot be open."

Loony Bin Comedy Club owner Larry Marks says he's frustrated with setbacks and changes that alter his plans to reopen.

Local business owners not yet cleared to reopen wonder why other businesses have the green light for Monday (May 18) when they have similar precautions in place to keep customers safe.

"I'm not happy that we can't open the drive-in because we're getting so many people asking when we're gonna open," says Starlite Drive-In owner Blake Smith, frustrated that his business is mixed with indoor movie theaters, not able to reopen until at least June 1.

Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Lee Norman says businesses that are allowed to reopen Monday are well trained in infection control. Kelly agrees.

“Quite honestly, barbershops and nail salons and hairdressers are very equipped to sanitize. They do that anyway," Kelly says.

The governor says she understands the frustrations but is trying to balance reopening the state with public safety.

"I recognize this can be frustrating for Kansans," Kelly says. "This disease has been hard on all of us, but we must balance reopening the state with ensuring we have the public health capacity to test, trace and treat."