Health officer warns businesses not in compliance of health order can be closed

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(File photo by Abigail Compton | Collegian Media Group)

Businesses not in compliance with Local Health Order No. 17 can face fines or closure, local health officer Julie Gibbs said in press releases.

“I am working with the Riley County Police Department to address violations,” Gibbs said.

Mayor Usha Reddi released pictures on her Facebook page from bars and restaurants in Aggieville on Thursday and Friday nights. Patrons at O’Malley’s can be seen standing closely together and not wearing masks.

Violators of the health order are subject to criminal penalties, the RCHD said. The RCPD can ban future gatherings at specific locations as well.

“It is disappointing to see people in the community make choices without regard for the safety of others,” Gibbs said. “Most business owners have been following guidelines and doing everything in their power to slow the spread of the virus. Those that haven’t will face action, which can include closure. Some communities in Kansas have closed bars and nightclubs. I hope we don’t get to that point, but closing certain categories of business is one of the options available.”

Gibbs can ban public gatherings as a RCHD health officer as well as take other measures necessary to control the spread of COVID-19. At this point, all business closures are voluntary.

Health Order No. 17 limits restaurants and bars to seating areas only and closes dance floors. The order requires patrons to sit 6 feet apart.

“Again, who are the enforcers?” Reddi said. “After the past 17 orders, are we still in the ‘educating’ phase. Students are not the blame. This is on us.”

Those in violation of local health orders can be fined up to $100 for each offense upon conviction.

At least 27 percent of positive cases of COVID-19 in Riley County are linked to bars and restaurants.

For concerns or possible violations of health orders, contact the health department at rileycountycovid19@gmail.com or 785-587-4526. They will forward complaints to the Riley County Health Department. 911 should not be called for health order violations.

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Bailey Britton
My name is Bailey Britton and I am the editor-in-chief of the Collegian. Previously, I have been the assistant news editor and the managing editor. I have also interned for the Manhattan Mercury and the Colby Free Press. I grew up in Colby, Kansas, and I am a junior in journalism and English. Through the Collegian, I aim to provide the K-State community with quality news coverage while we learn to serve our campus.