County expands mass gathering limit, removes operating hour restrictions for restaurants, bars

photo by: August Rudisell/Special to the Journal-World

Vehicles line up at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, where residents were receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, on Friday, Jan. 29, 2020, in Lawrence, Kan.

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to decline, Douglas County announced Tuesday morning that it would update its public health order to lessen and even remove some restrictions.

Starting Wednesday at 12:01 a.m., the mass gathering limit will expand to 50, and no restrictions will be placed on the operating hours for restaurants and bars. Previously, Douglas County had a mass gathering limit of 25, and restaurants and bars were required to close at midnight.

“As we have seen over the past month, newly reported cases and active case numbers continue to decline in Douglas County,” Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health Director Dan Partridge said in a news release. “As public health and partner agencies continue to administer vaccinations, we strongly encourage residents to continue mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing. We continue to make strides in the right direction, so we are relaxing these restrictions again.”

The health order still includes an indoor capacity limit of 50%, and restaurants and bars must adhere to social distancing and masking requirements. All people older than 5 must wear masks in indoor public spaces except when eating, drinking, swimming or if the person has a medical condition that prevents wearing a mask. Additionally, masks must be worn in outdoor spaces when 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained.

“As we continue to loosen the restrictions on gathering limits, we still ask the public to remain vigilant when it comes to mask wearing, social distancing and washing hands frequently,” Dr. Thomas Marcellino, the local public health officer, said in the release. “As our community continues to vaccinate more and more residents, I continue to believe we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to this pandemic. However, it’s critical we not let our guards down.”

Anyone with questions related to COVID-19 may call the county’s new COVID-19 help line at 785-864-9000.

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