JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
A spokesman for Reopen Missouri said the organization expects hundreds, if not thousands of people to attend a rally outside the Missouri Capitol on Tuesday.
The organizers are calling on Gov. Mike Parson and state lawmakers to remove the statewide stay-at-home order amid the spread of COVID-19. The order is in effect through May 3.
Reopen Missouri is following similar rallies that have happened in state capitals across the country.
The group's Facebook page has about 13,500 members as of Monday after if was created a week ago.
According to a release, the demonstration is scheduled to start at noon.
Spokesman Josh Schisler said rallygoers are expected to follow COVID-19 social distancing orders.
"We've been telling our members to social distance -- we're encouraging anyone with underlying health issues to stay home or send someone else in their place," Schisler said.
Schisler said the order is hurting elderly people and those with underlying health issues. He added the orders make it harder to get essential services to that population.
"We're focused on how we can protect the vulnerable population as opposed to focusing on jobs or the economy," Schisler said.
Parson was asked about the rally during one of his daily COVID-19 briefings last week. The governor said he was okay with the gathering being held as long as members abided by the state scoial distancing order.
He was asked again Monday about how the Capitol Police and state will respond to the protest tomorrow. He said they will address it like any other protest.
"They have every right to come to the state capitol and protest, I don't think we're going to try to stop it," Parson said. "The main thing we have is an order in place that says no gathering of 10 or more and to stay six feet apart, so I assume that's the plan."
"We're in the process up reopening our state which is what I think the protest wants along with some other issues they have," Parson said Monday. "I think we are lining up directly with what the president's order...we're doing what we can to get the state open."
Organizers met with Missouri Capitol Police on Monday. Capitol police spokesman Mike O'Connell said it's common practice for groups such as Reopen Missouri to meet with officers before events take place.
The Jefferson City Police Department is also aware of the protest. The department said it will respect the rights of the participants until it becomes unlawful.
No permit has been issued for the rally, but O'Connell said it is common for a protest to still happen without a permit. The Office of Administration said they did not issue a permit because the Capitol grounds have been closed since March 24. No permits have been issued since then, and several have been canceled.
The state reported 5,667 cases of COVID-19 on Sunday -- an increase of about 1,500 from the week before. The next update is expected Monday afternoon.