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Lawmaker leaks Gov. Kelly's plan to reopen Kansas

FILE - In this April 15, 2020 file photo, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly discusses the coronavirus pandemic from the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. On Tuesday, April 21, 2020,Kelly announced that the state has relaxed its guidelines for when people are tested for coronavirus so that more people can get tested. (AP Photo/John Hanna File)
FILE - In this April 15, 2020 file photo, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly discusses the coronavirus pandemic from the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. On Tuesday, April 21, 2020,Kelly announced that the state has relaxed its guidelines for when people are tested for coronavirus so that more people can get tested. (AP Photo/John Hanna File)(KWCH)
Published: Apr. 30, 2020 at 12:29 PM CDT
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A Kansas lawmaker leaked a document of

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shared a copy of the plans marked "CONFIDENTIAL: NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION" on his Facebook page Thursday saying, "Kansas deserves information as soon as its available. People's livelihoods are at stake."

Within a matter of hours until everyone saw the plan anyway, the Republican representative explained his reasoning for leaking the information.

"I was grateful to be able to have some information that I could share with the people of Kansas," he said. "The people of Kansas are truly yearning for information so that they know what their future looks like. Their ability to get back to work and so many other things. I was very thankful to have some information that I could share with people. "

He said Kelly's office was "very respectful, but disappointed that he released the information not meant to be spread to the public until Thursday evening.

"I shared with (the governor's office) that I understand where they’re coming from," Owens said. "I respect that disappointment but I am equally disappointed in the governor’s office for not releasing information sooner, for not providing hope and information to the citizens of Kansas, that they can begin preparing to rebuild their lives, to rebuild their business, and to get back to work. It ultimately ended up being a very respectful call where they did understand where I was coming from and the need for information. Again, I think they get it but of course, would have preferred that it not be released."

Regarding the contents of the plan, mass gatherings are still limited to 10 people or fewer, and masks are encouraged in public settings. Businesses can reopen unless otherwise identified by the governor or local government, and the governor will release a list of businesses not allowed to open.

Businesses that can reopen have to adhere to the mass gathering limit, but that applies in-store and not the total occupancy of the store. Customers must be kept 6 feet apart and the store must follow cleaning and public health practices.

When it comes to employers, telework is still encouraged for all employees. If on-site, employers should keep mass gatherings within the workplace of 10 people or less where social distancing protocols can be maintained.

High-risk individuals are advised to stay home except when it is essential to get out. It is strongly recommended masks be worn in public settings.

K-12 facilities remain subject to the executive order which limits the number of instructors, staff and students to ten or less.

Licensed childcare facilities may continue to operate pursuant state and local instructions.

"I recognize that there are going to be some people that are still going to be uncomfortable getting out of their homes and patronizing these businesses, but I think there’s a lot of people that are ready to start living their lives again," said Owens.

He said leaving more localized orders up to individual counties is a move that makes sense considering the different populations, demographics, etc.

"...What's good for Sedgwick County may not be good for Harvey County, which may not be good for Meade County. Allowing governments to have that control to make those decisions for what’s best for their county makes good sense," Owens says. "They’re definitely much more in touch with the individual elected officials and the individual citizens on the ground."

With the early release of Governor Kelly's plan, Owens said he helped provide some clarity for people in his district and beyond craving information and wondering if the statewide-stay-at-home order will actually be lifted May 3. He said unveiling the plan Thursday morning, instead of having to wait to hear it in the evening, "provides a better day for people," looking ahead to next week and clearance to begin reopening businesses.

"...This provides more hope for people. It provides an extra day of planning," Owens says. "It provides an extra day of people being able to try to obtain PPE if they’re going to be required to wear masks in their businesses. "Again, information is power.In this situation, information is hope. It allows businesses to have a bit of a head start in being able to prepare another business day because I mean, if we waited for the information tomorrow (Friday), people have one business day, Friday to try to get prepared and then a weekend. So this equates to two business days, double the amount of business days. People will hopefully be able to begin some preparations."

Kansas deserves information as soon as its available. People's livelihoods are at stake. I received a copy of the Govs...

Posted by Rep. Stephen Owens - Kansas 74th House District on Thursday, April 30, 2020

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