LAWRENCE – Douglas County Commissioners on April 14 unanimously approved an updated public health order recommended by local health officers that keeps a countywide mask mandate and social distancing requirements in businesses and most public venues.
The updated order removes the county’s mass gathering limit of 50 but keeps a 50 percent capacity restriction on indoor businesses and most public venues. It does allow businesses and venues to opt out of the occupancy restrictions with written notice and by posting signage at the entrance. The updated order takes effect at 12:01 a.m., Thursday, April 15, and remains in force until May 26.
“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. “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.”
Local Health Officer Dr. Thomas Marcellino and Deputy Local Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Schrimsher, also an infectious disease specialist at LMH Health, presented the proposed order to Douglas County Commissioners as part of their 5:30 p.m. business meeting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, and commissioners unanimously approved the order. Senate Bill 40 recently signed into law by Gov. Laura Kelly requires County Commission approval of proposed health orders that will limit gatherings and require mask wearing.
Similar to previous health order, the updated order still includes:
- An indoor capacity limit of 50% of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy of the facility where the gathering is occurring. This applies to entertainment venues, recreational facilities, restaurants, bars and other businesses serving food and/or drink indoors.
- Venues may opt out of this occupancy limitation if they provide written notice to Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health and posting at sign at their front entrance.
- The social distancing requirement must be adhered to at all times both inside the venue and any activity taking place outside the venue, including in line to enter an indoor public space.
- A requirement for all people older than 5 to wear masks in all indoor public spaces — except when eating, drinking, swimming or if they have a medical condition that prevents it — and outdoor public spaces where they are unable to maintain 6 feet of social distance.
“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,” said Dr. Thomas Marcellino, local public health officer. “It is critical we not let our guards down.”
Anyone with a question about compliance of a local health order can email: firstname.lastname@example.org. And the Douglas County COVID Helpline – 785-864-9000 – is available. This phone number will be answered by trained staff who can help answer questions about vaccination, testing, symptoms, local public health orders and other COVID-19 related questions. The helpline will be available: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m.-noon Saturday.
More information about Douglas County COVID-19 response and recovery efforts can visit douglascountyks.org/coronavirus.