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Starting June 29, Kansas City, Missouri, Will Require Face Masks In Many Public Places

061920_PrayTroost2.jpg_carlos moreno
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR
A demonstrator at a recent protest event in Kansas City, Missouri, wearing a mask. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said wearing masks "is a necessary step to ensure we can save lives and keep our economy open."

City health department also recommends businesses turn away patrons who refuse to wear face coverings.

With COVID-19 cases hitting record highs in the metropolitan area, Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas on Friday ordered the wearing of face masks in public places where social distancing isn’t feasible.

The order, which takes effect Monday, June 29, exempts minors, people with certain medical and respiratory conditions, and restaurant and bar patrons who are eating or drinking while “adequately distanced” from other customers.

Included in the order are grocery and retail stores, public transit and special events.

“Our country’s leading health and scientific experts have indicated in no uncertain terms that mask-wearing is the most effective way to curb the spread of COVID-19,” Lucas said in a statement.

“Case numbers in Kansas City continue to rise, and we are taking all steps we can to ensure public health and safety. I know wearing masks can be uncomfortable, but this is a necessary step to ensure we can save lives and keep our economy open. We wear masks to protect our loved ones, those around us, and their loved ones.”

Lucas also removed the 50% occupancy limit, except for taverns and bars, that had previously been in effect.

Numerous studies have shown that masks reduce transmission of COVID-19.

The Kansas City area has seen a steady rise in COVID-19 cases over the last few weeks, with 194 new cases on Wednesday, a record daily high. The metro area has recorded a total of around 7,000 cases altogether.

Although some of the increase is due to more testing, the positivity rate — the percentage of people testing positive for the disease — has also increased, a sign of community spread.

Lucas’ mask-wearing order will be enforced mainly by the Kansas City Health Department, which is recommending that businesses involving close personal contact refuse service to customers who don’t wear masks.

“We are keeping a close watch on our cases and hospitalizations, but know widespread mask use is one essential way to slow COVID-19 and keep Kansas City businesses open,” Dr. Rex Archer, director of the city health department, said in a statement.

“It’s up to us. Let’s learn from Texas and Florida and what’s happening there now. Their mitigations and closures weren’t as quickly adopted or embraced. Now their case counts are rising at a disturbing rate and they’ve had to slow their reopening plans.”

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