Gov. Mike Parson said last week that the state will leave safety oversight to individual businesses as they are allowed to reopen.
Parson said during a news conference that the state would in many ways revert to normal operations as of May 4, with businesses and other institutions largely responsible for continuing social distancing and enforcing safe behavior.
Although the news conference was centered around housing assistance, it was while fielding questions from reporters afterward that Parson asserted that Missouri will try to reopen with as little regulation as possible.
“If their boss calls you and if the business owners call you to go back to work, you’ve got to go back to work,” Parson said.
He went on to say that if employees feel unsafe, they can always exercise their individual right to stay home, but he did not acknowledge that this could mean ending their employment.
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced a plan Wednesday that would start a “gradual” end on May 18 to his local stay-at-home order that has been in effect for six weeks.
Parson also said that while the state would do what was needed to acquire personal protective equipment for state employees, he felt the private sector would bear the burden and various state departments would have to make their own decisions.
“I think we’re all realizing that PPE, in different situations, people are just going to want to wear it. So, I think the market will bear that,” Parson said.
The governor outlined a number of measures that will be used to ease housing costs for families. Over $24 million in CARES ACT federal funding will be allocated as grants to pay providers of essential services on behalf of families, and $9.4 million will be used to aid those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Parson also said he has been working with privately owned utility companies to prevent services from being shut off.
Randall Williams, the director of Missouri’s Department for Health and Senior Services, asserted that it would likely be on businesses to enforce ongoing safety procedures when reopening, with the state offering little additional oversight.
“I think it’s in the best interest of businesses to practice safe practices,” Williams said.
He also said he did not believe a meat plant experiencing an outbreak in St. Joseph needed to shut down, despite saying that 132 employees had tested positive for the virus.