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City operations easing back to normal
The council to meet as GB moves to phase 2
city covid-19
An angler wets his line at Veterans Memorial Lake Monday afternoon. The City of Great Bend is easing out of COVID-19 restriction to allow more access to city facilities like parks. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s announcement last Tuesday that management of the COVID-19 pandemic is up to county officials, and Barton County’s response Wednesday lifting restrictions, should have little impact on the City of Great Bend, City Administrator Kendal Francis said.

“Most of the restrictions we have in place are on internal operations,” he said. On May 4, the City Council approved a four-phase plan, mirroring Kelly’s Ad Astra initiative, that gradually opens city facilities.

Come Monday, Great Bend will enter Phase 2 under which many city operations would return to normal, he said. But, since the limitations were imposed via council resolution, any deviations would require council action as well.

The council will meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 1207 Williams St. The meeting will be open to the public for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

It has been a roller coaster for city officials trying to align its efforts with the state’s.

On May 7, Kelly implemented a Phase 1.5, delaying Phase 2 by two weeks, so the city revised its plan accordingly. Then, a week later, the governor reversed course, saying the state was ready to ease into Phase 2 after all, but the city kept its phase 1.5.

Now, Great Bend is on track to enter its Phase 2 come Monday. 

Also factoring into this was the governor’s action that allowed her plan to expire as of Wednesday morning. This prompted the County Commission, meeting as the Board of Health Wednesday morning, to take no action and allow restrictions to lapse.

As for Phase 2, it remains pretty much as it was, except now there are no state-imposed gathering limits. 

Francis said he will recommend a “stripped down” version to the council Monday. “It will essentially keep everything in place, but the council may choose to open a few things a little quicker than originally planned. A prime example will be playgrounds.”

As is, the second phase includes:

1. City Council Meetings

• Public access resumes

• Social distancing enforced

• Gathering restrictions enforced

2. Front Door reopens to public access

• Staffing isolation remains unchanged

• Encourage virtual interactions

• Social distancing enforced

• Resume rental of meeting room – Lecture Hall remains closed for staff

• Gathering restrictions enforced 

• Social distancing enforced

3. Events Center reopens to public access

• Resume rentals

• Gathering restrictions enforced 

• Social distancing enforced

4. Brit Spaugh Zoo reopens to public access

• Operation hours noon – 4 p.m.

• Staffing rotations remain unchanged

• Gathering restrictions enforced 

• Gift shop and Raptor Center will remain closed

• Outdoor restrooms remain closed

5. Expo Buildings

• Buildings 1, 2 and 3 reopen to public access

• Gathering restrictions enforced

• Social distancing enforced

6. Sports Complex, Veterans Park fields and tennis courts, Harms Field and motocross track reopened to organized practices and events with restrictions.

7. No non-essential business travel

After that, Phase 3 is slated for June 15 at the earliest. It includes:

1. City Hall staffing returns to normal

• Social distancing enforced

• Gathering restrictions enforced

2. Front Door 

• Staffing returns to normal

• Resume rental of lecture hall

3. Brit Spaugh Zoo 

• Resume normal operation hours

• Staffing returns to normal

• Gathering restrictions enforced 

• Gift shop and Raptor Center reopen

• Outdoor restrooms remain closed

4. Building Inspections 

• Staffing returns to normal 

• Social distancing encouraged

5. Public Works staffing returns to normal

6. Wetlands Waterpark reopens 

7. SRCA dragstrip reopens for races

8. Expo grounds reopen for public events

9. No non-essential business travel

Then, Phase 4, anticipated for June 22: 

1. Fire Department 

• Station staffing returns to normal

• Meeting room reopens to public access

2. Playgrounds, park restrooms and zoo outdoor restrooms reopened

3. Non-essential business travel can resume.