Stay-at-Home Order FAQs
The Order: Necessity, Rules, Timeframe, Penalties, Resources, etc.
The Stay-At-Home Emergency Order was issued to protect the health and safety of all residents of Springfield, with the goal of limiting the continued community spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. It was issued based on the guidance of public health experts, as well as consultations with area medical leaders about the consequences of continued community spread of coronavirus in the Springfield metropolitan region on health care availability and access.
One of the most effective ways to combat COVID-19 is to stay physically distant from one another. We know this is going to be disruptive, and that’s the point. But we know if we can do this right, right now, we can stop the spread of this disease, and we can help flatten the curve. This will help our community recover more quickly on the back end and help prevent from overwhelming the health care system.
The new emergency order will take effect at 12:01 AM on Thursday, March 26, 2020 and will remain in effect through 11:59 PM on April 24, 2020. The order will be evaluated on an ongoing basis and may be modified as circumstances change based on guidance from public health officials and other experts.
The order requires Springfield residents to stay at home unless they are engaged in one of the essential activities specified in the order. Essential activities include working in an essential business, obtaining supplies or necessary services, seeking medical care, caring for a family member or loved one, and exercising and maintaining personal health. Individuals are strongly encouraged to practice physical distancing to the extent feasible while engaging in these activities, and to stay home if not engaging in one of these specific activities.
Residents can leave their residences to engage in essential activities, including exercising and maintaining personal health (walking/bicycling/running/etc.), working at an essential business, obtaining supplies or necessary services, or seeking medical care. We strongly urge Springfieldians to stay at home if they are not engaged in any of these essential activities as this will greatly aid efforts to stop the community spread of COVID-19. That said, there are penalties of up to a $1000 fine and/or up to 180 days in jail.
Public Health law dates back to polio and tuberculosis outbreaks decades ago. It is expansive and supported by a myriad of case law. We are in our bounds. We are only doing it because of the potential for loss of life on a mass scale. It is very serious.
Up to $1000 and up to 180 days in jail.
The City has many mechanisms to enforce this order, including the Fire Marshal, Health Department, and the Police Department. This order will be enforced similarly to other business-related ordinances (building occupancy, health requirements for food preparation, etc.), and violators will be subject to fines and business closure orders, among other penalties.
This situation is changing by the hour. Our goal is to make sure we are protecting our community from this disease and to balance that with allowing our community to continue to operate.
If we all do what we need to in order to stop the spread of this disease (stay home!), hopefully further restrictions won’t be needed.
The time we are going through now is not a time for any divisiveness. It is time for us to work together and put all politics aside.
General Business Questions
Major categories of essential businesses defined in the order include:
- Health care (doctors, dentists, nurses, hospitals, pharmacies, medical research facilities, blood donation services, labs, etc)
- Food and drink production and distribution (including grocery stores, markets, restaurants that offer food for carryout)
- Sanitation (including laundromats, dry cleaners, household and business cleaning services and supply stores)
- Transportation (including railroads, airports, public transit, taxis and other private transportation providers)
- Auto repair and service, including gas stations and auto supply stores
- Financial Services (including banks, insurance providers, and professional services required to comply with legal and regulatory requirements)
- Manufacturing and distribution of supplies and materials for essential businesses (including trucking and other supply chain support functions)
- Maintenance and construction of infrastructure and households
- Building supply stores
- Essential Government Operations
- Residential care facilities
- Hotels and motels
- Media and Communications Providers
- Mailing, Shipping, and Delivery services
A full list of categories of essential businesses is provided in the stay-at-home order.
The City strongly encourages all essential businesses to allow employees to work from home and to maintain social distancing to the extent feasible in continuing to carry out their operations.
We looked first to guidance from the Dept of homeland security who identified a list of critical infrastructure groups. We then took that list and cross-checked that against what other communities are doing in terms of identifying essential businesses and activities. We looked to Kansas City and St. Louis metro areas who both had already declared stay at home orders. Staff worked with those lists and prepared a draft that was then reviewed by the mayor and he ultimately recommended that list.
For Greene County, this was done in a collaboration with a large group of community leaders who had very good and measured input so we could make adjustments. Greene County also relied on the City’s legal department. The list that Greene County has mirrors that of the City.
Guidance is currently available on a general (industry) basis and not a case-by-case (specific business) basis. We encourage all business owners to review the order in its entirety if they believe there is ambiguity about whether they qualify as essential or not. If you are unsure if you are an essential business, please call 417-874-1211, option 3, complete this form or email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you submit a request for an exemption through the online form and receive a notice it has been closed, check for notes. This is a new process, and there could be user error. If you are not sure you can submit the form again.
Non-essential businesses can continue operations that can be conducted from employees’ homes or places of rest. They can also continue minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory and facilities and to ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions, as well as minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences or places of rest, provided social distancing is maintained. Any operations that do not meet these requirements must be ceased.
Springfield Police, Building Development Services, Licensing, city legal, planning and county officials will all be working together on enforcement. Our initial response is on a complaint basis. In most cases we will respond, investigate, and then try to get someone to comply. There are potential ramifications that are an option, but they are not our first option as a police department.
To issue a complaint, call 864-1010 or email email@example.com.
At this time, we are not requiring any sort of work permit or pass. Again, just be ready to explain where you’re going if you should be pulled over.
The City cannot compel any individual to go to work, nor can it make determinations for essential businesses about which employees are essential and non-essential for carrying out its work. Essential businesses can continue standard operations provided social distancing is maintained to the extent feasible. Essential businesses are strongly encouraged to allow employees whose duties can be carried out from home to do so.
The order is very specific on what is essential, and this is a conversation to have with your employer. Call the business hotline at 417-874-1211, option 3, for advice. When in doubt, if you think you’re at risk, stay home.
Employers are suggested to confirm through their legal counsel whether or not they are essential.
The City cannot compel any business to remain open.
If there is a positive case public health will be in contact with that case as well as any contact they’ve had. They conduct a full epidemological investigation. The Health Department would be in-touch with the employer and employee to talk about potential risk and what the appropriate action will be.
A list of resources for businesses and employees related to the health impacts is located on the Springfield-Greene County Health Department’s website. The City of Springfield’s Department of Workforce Development can also answer questions about the resources available for both job seekers and employers. The Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce has a resource page with advice on how to limit the potential economic and business impact of COVID-19.
Specific Business Categories: Essential vs Non-essential
The following is not an exhaustive list of all businesses or categories deemed essential by the stay-at-home order. Rather it is a list of specific business categories for which the City has received questions. Please read the stay-at-home order for a full explanation of businesses deemed "essential."
Childcare is considered essential because the City recognizes that many workers in essential industries need access to childcare to continue to work. The order includes the following guidance for childcare providers, and the City recommends that all providers follow this guidance to the extent feasible:
- Childcare should be carried out in stable groups, preferably with 10 or fewer (“stable” means that the same 10 or fewer children are in the same group each day);
- Children should not change from one group to another;
- If more than one group of children is cared for at one facility, each group should be in a separate room. Groups should not mix with each other; and
- Childcare providers should remain solely with one group of children.
Public works, infrastructure (including commercial buildings), and commercial and residential construction. We strongly encourage construction businesses to carry out their work in compliance with physical distancing requirements and guidelines to the extent feasible.
Please look at the broad list of exemptions and read the order. Golf courses can be open, but we are recommending pro shops be closed. One person per cart is recommended.
We did not include any specific exemptions for gun stores because those protections already exist under state law. Chapter 44.101 of the revised Missouri statutes: “The state, any political subdivision, or any person shall not prohibit or restrict the lawful possession, transfer, sale, transportation, storage, display, or use of firearms or ammunition during an emergency.”
Home repair services, including:
- other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences and essential
Hotels and motels
Lawn services, landscaping or lawn mower repair
Per a clause in the order, businesses that are critical to the support of an essential business, like lawn mower repair is to lawn care, can continue to operate.
Any manufacturing operation that supplies goods necessary for the operation of other essential businesses (for example medical equipment, transport equipment, telecommunications equipment, supplies necessary to maintain or build infrastructure, sanitation and cleaning supplies, food or beverages, etc.)
Payday loan companies
Title and payday loan companies are considered financial businesses and are essential.
Realtors, leasing agents, building inspectors, and movers
- leasing agents
- building/housing inspection services
- other services necessary to help people find or maintain housing
- property-type activities like property management and real-estate transfers, inspections and appraisals
We strongly encourage all of these services to practice social distancing to the extent feasible and to limit unnecessary activities that can be deferred to a later date.
Railroads, airline and airport workers, truck drivers and public transit (buses, ride-share, taxis) are classified as essential. Additionally, maintenance providers (such as mechanics or bike repair shops) are also classified as essential, as are suppliers of parts needed to maintain the operations of transit providers.
The following is not an exhaustive list of all businesses or categories deemed non-essential by the stay-at-home order. Rather it is a list of specific business categories for which the City has received questions. Please read the stay-at-home order for a full explanation of businesses deemed "essential." Business categories not called out as essential in the order are deemed non-essential.
- Animal adoption services and purchasing new animals
- Gyms or workout facilities
- Personal services, such as hair or nail salons, barber shops, spas and tanning facilities
- Pet grooming services
Child custody visits
These are essential. Please continue to follow all court mandated visitation agreements.
Cleaning and/or sanitation
Cleaning is specifically called out as essential in terms of sanitation for residential and commercial structure.
Construction improvements or repairs to homes or businesses
Construction is specifically called out as essential in the City’s and County’s orders in a broad enough way to cover both commercial and residential projects.
Critical home repairs are considered essential activities. A "critical" home repair is a repair requiring urgent attention. A small repair that does not alter your typical daily living situation would not be considered critical. Example: A roof leak would be a critical repair, while a chip in paint would not be critical.
If you have a home renovation project to complete, by all means, do so. However, now is not the time to start a new, non-critical project which would require people coming and going from your home.
Exercising or playing outdoors, fishing, kayaking, horseback riding, etc
Outdoor recreation that is isolated is permitted, such as fishing, golfing, running or allowing your children to play outside. We encourage you to think about whether or not an activity is something you need to do. If you can do without, consider doing so in order to help protect others. Parks and trails currently remain open, but playgrounds are closed.
You are encouraged to practice physical distancing from others not in your immediate family when engaged in ANY activity. This means staying at least six feet apart from others.
Sports or recreation teams should not be meeting.
Funerals are considered essential activities. Work with funeral homes on ways to comply with CDC guidelines for physical distancing.
Grocery shopping or ordering food from a restaurant
Eating is an essential function for life. Our restaurants have been fantastic in adjusting to the new criteria and moving to drive-thru and carryout services only. This is considered an essential service as is buying groceries.
Mail or packages – any guidance?
Everyone should take precautions as they move throughout the community, regardless of the specific activity. We don’t have any specific guidance on packaging at this time, but precautions like washing hands or using hand sanitizer after you handle mail is a good idea.
Moving is considered an essential activity.
Visiting family members? Can they visit a grandmother?
Absolutely. We want you to help take care of each other and especially your own families.
Weddings are NOT considered essential activities. For the time being we’re asking you to delay. You can still get a marriage license and get married, but please don’t put your new spouse and family at risk by holding a large event.
There is not an explicit travel ban. The stay at home order does not close the borders of Springfield or Greene County. You can drive around for essential activities, and then go home.
If you work outside of Greene County, we recommend calling the county where you work for guidance on any restrictions they may have in place.
No. We are not issuing any type of permit or pass at this time. We will not be stopping people solely to ask where they are going. If you do get pulled over, this may be a follow-up question during a traffic stop. Please just be prepared to explain where you’re going.
Some companies have locations in other states, and those locations may require paperwork. For the Springfield-Greene County order, no such paperwork or other written documentation explaining your whereabouts is required.
There are counties considering adopting this same order. We expect to see similar actions around the region and the state. Consult with your employer and do the best thing to keep yourself and everyone around you safe.
The Sheriff and Police Department will not be setting up checkpoints to keep people from going in and out. We’re just asking that you do the right thing regardless of where you live.
This is the type of activity the order seeks to limit. It is best to stay home during this time to avoid the spread of coronavirus, except for essential functions like grocery shopping or work if you are considered an essential employee.
Resources & Tips for the Community
Stay home. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s what we need people to do. There are two exceptions to this:
- Essential services within our community: We want people to be there to provide the front-line response to this and to help our community keep running with the most effective services that we can.
- Blood donation: We encourage people to continue to donate blood.
Also of note: Community Foundation of the Ozarks today announced that they have opened applications for $1 million fund to support nonprofits that will support vulnerable populations impacted by COVID-19.
COVID-19 is a new disease, so we are all susceptible. There are individuals at higher risk, but we can all get the disease and suffer from it. We want the entire community to respond because we’re all in this together. The actions of me and my family are going to affect those throughout the community.
Homeless shelters are considered essential and remain open.
Community Partnership of the Ozarks has established a task force to develop and implement strategies to care for and advocate for our homeless populations in this difficult time. Churches and anyone else who want to be a part of this effort should contact the Community Partnership of the Ozarks.
City Utilities has announced that they will not be shutting off utilities at this time. We ask that the people of the community have mercy, but we are not making any directives on evictions at this time.
Health or Virus-related Questions
If you have health-related questions, please visit the Health Department website.