New order extends Sedgwick County mask mandate

Sedgwick County’s Local Health Officer Dr. Garold Minns signed a new emergency public health order on Tuesday, which will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday morning, August 22, 2020 and be in place until at least midnight Tuesday night, September 8, 2020. This order will be effective once the current order expires. Minns will be at the Board of County Commissioners meeting tomorrow morning to discuss the order with Commissioners.

A major change reflected in this order is that it allows for a fair and equitable environment for local bars and nightclubs to begin to optimistically operate and start opening safely.

Businesses classified as drinking establishment (DE) and drinking establishment restaurant (DER) will operate at 50 percent of the fire code capacity. Both will be required to close to the public at 11 p.m. daily but may continue carryout and curbside services.

Residents are still required to wear masks or face coverings in public spaces with children age five or younger not required to wear a mask. There are some exemptions to this rule as not everyone is able to safely wear a mask. Exemptions to the order are included in the document.

The order adopts Phase 2 of the Ad Astra Plan which allows groups of up to 15 people that must be located at least six feet away from other groups. Events and business occupancy are not capped at 15 people. Individuals in public gatherings are still required to wear a mask.

As schools begin the fall semester, it is imperative to ensure that students, faculty, and staff are able to operate safely. Currently, Sedgwick County’s rate of positive cases is holding steady at slightly below 10 percent; Dr. Minns indicates his goal is to reduce that to five percent to align with CDC’s recommendation for children returning to schools. Our community toolbox consists of mask wearing, social distancing, and good hand hygiene, as the best ways for the community to reach that goal.