New local health order that keeps masks but eliminates mass-gathering limit will go before County Commission

photo by: AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

A government study released on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, finds that wearing two masks can better than one, in protecting against coronavirus infection.

Douglas County’s health officers are proposing a new health order that would keep the mask mandate in place, eliminate the mass-gathering limit and provide more flexibility about the occupancy rules for businesses and venues.

The health order will go before the Douglas County Commission on Wednesday and must be approved by a majority of the three commissioners. If approved, the health order will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday. Following the passage of Senate Bill 40, signed by Gov. Laura Kelly, county commissions must now approve proposed health orders that would limit gatherings or require mask wearing.

The proposed health order for Douglas County would remove the county’s mass-gathering limit of 50 people and keep a 50% capacity reduction on indoor businesses and public venues. The health order, however, would allow businesses and venues to opt out of the occupancy restrictions if they provide written notice to the health department and post signage about their occupancy at the entrance.

Social-distancing requirements would still be enforced inside buildings and outside of buildings in cases such as lines to get into a bar. The new health order would also still require people older than 5 years to wear masks in all indoor public spaces and outdoor spaces where six feet of distance can’t be maintained.

“As Douglas County has done well overall during the pandemic, our public health strategy going forward continues to rely on the efficacy of mask wearing and social distancing. We continue to ask our community members to do their part to keep the disease spread manageable and to protect those most vulnerable,” Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health Director Dan Partridge said in the release. “As we have seen in recent weeks, even with a strong vaccination effort to date locally, it is important to utilize community mitigation strategies to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in light of seeing continued new cases and new variants, which may be more transmissible.”

Anyone with questions about the proposed new health order may email phorders@ldchealth.org or call the Douglas County COVID helpline at 785-864-9000.

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