Douglas County health department to allow closed businesses to reopen Monday; gatherings capped at 45
photo by: Kevin Anderson/Journal-World File Photo
Story updated at 5:06 p.m. Thursday
Douglas County residents will soon be allowed to gather in larger groups and all businesses that have been closed during the COVID-19 pandemic can reopen Monday with proper social distancing measures, the health department announced Thursday.
The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department will be adopting Phase 3 of Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s reopening guidelines at 12:01 a.m. Monday, June 8. The governor’s plan no longer has the weight of an executive order behind it at the statewide level, following clashes between Kelly and Republican lawmakers, but some local authorities have adopted the guidelines into their own health orders. Douglas County previously adopted Phase 2 of the governor’s plan, which limits gatherings to 15 people and requires some at-risk businesses to stay closed.
“This is the next step in a phased reopening that we feel is working well for our community, and we encourage people to continue taking precautions such as avoiding gathering in large groups and practice six feet of social distancing, wear masks in public and continue to practice measures of good hygiene, such as washing your hands frequently and staying home if you feel sick,” Douglas County Health Officer Thomas Marcellino said in a news release.
As part of Phase 3, gatherings up to 45 people will be allowed. In addition, all businesses, activities and venues can open if they can largely maintain six feet of social distance between people and follow other cleaning and public health practices. Bars and nightclubs, all swimming pools, large entertainment venues, fairs, festivals, carnivals, parades and overnight summer camps will be allowed to open. As the Journal-World has previously reported, Lawrence’s outdoor pool will remain closed all summer under the city’s phased reopening plan for parks and recreation facilities.
The final phase of the governor’s plan, which would phase out all gathering restrictions, was previously expected to take effect no earlier than June 22. Douglas County continues to monitor the community spread of the disease and medical surge capacity to determine how to proceed with future phases or the possible reintroduction of restrictions, if necessary.
As of Thursday, Douglas County had counted 69 cumulative COVID-19 cases since March 16, and 65 of those cases had recovered. Thursday’s case number was an increase of two cases since Wednesday.
No patients at Lawrence’s hospital had COVID-19 on Thursday.