What is an essential business? Compliance issues raised with KS stay-at-home order

Published: Mar. 31, 2020 at 7:05 PM CDT
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On Day 2 of the

requiring businesses deemed non-essential to close, a quick drive around Wichita is all it takes to see what businesses aren't complying with the order.

When Sedgwick County began its

last week, it listed 26 categories of essential businesses that could remain open while the order is in effect. The order started March 23 and, barring any adjustments to shorten or extend it, the order is in place for 30 days.

Eyewitness News Tuesday (March 31) spoke with Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple regarding concerns about businesses not complying with the stay-at-home orders. Whipple says he's getting similar calls and messages as Eyewitness News, hearing from people reporting businesses outside the "essential" category staying open.

Whipple says he doesn't believe businesses are incorrectly reading orders from Sedgwick County or the State of Kansas, they may just be choosing to ignore them.

"This isn't just about what's an essential business and what's not," Whipple says. "This is about being safe. So, it just kills me when we see people finding loopholes and exploiting these loopholes, which is putting their employees in danger," he says.

Whipple says the spirit of a stay-at-home order is meant to keep everyone home as much as possible to slow the spread of coronaviurs.

"We should be utilizing common sense," Whipple says. "Is what you're doing really essential? If you're an essential business exploiting a loophole so you can do nonessential work, ask yourself about your employees."

the current state order supersedes Sedgwick County's original order. Whipple says this limits the city and county's ability to enforce it. However, he says that can and will change if necessary.

"When we talked about what's essential and no essential, that happens with the experts in the room. We can build on top of that and I think we should," Whipple says.

He says there should be adjustments in the stay-at-home order in an effort to limit businesses that are opening up and not being safe to their customers or employees.

Eyewitness News reached out to some of the businesses staying open that people have had questions about. We're not naming businesses mentioned to us, but some who responded to questions say they checked with the county and were told they could stay open because some of the items sold in their stores qualify them as "essential."

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