Today, the Board of County Commissioners approved a new Public Health Order proposed by Local Health Officer Dr. Joseph LeMaster and Johnson County Health and Environment Director Dr. Sanmi Areola. It includes requirements for physical distancing in public spaces and the wearing of face masks. The order is effective from 12:01 a.m. on Friday, March 26 through 11:59 p.m. on April 30, 2021.
The BOCC also approved the establishment of COVID-19 community goals. If the following goals are achieved by the end of April, public health mitigation strategies in Johnson County will move from orders and mandates to “strong recommendations.” Those goals include:
- At least 50% of eligible Johnson County residents have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
- The number of new cases per 100,000 residents is less than 50.
- The Percent Positivity Rate remains below 5%.
“As the Board of Public Health, it is our responsibility to protect the health and safety of our community, especially the most vulnerable populations and those with pre-existing conditions, offering them a high level of protection until they are vaccinated,” says Chairman Ed Eilert, Johnson County Board of County Commissioners. “This was the least restrictive action we could have taken while working towards achieving community goals that should move us from orders to strong recommendations.”
In a separate agenda item today, the Board of County Commissioners agreed to hold its April 1, 2021 meeting virtually. At that time, the board will discuss possible protocols for safely conducting in person meetings.
Requirements of the new Johnson County Public Health Order
- Six feet of physical distancing within a public space between people who do not live together. Public spaces do not include private residences or private offices or workplaces that are not open to customers or public visitors. Exceptions to this requirement include:
- Businesses whose services require staff to be within less than 6 feet from one another. or the customer (i.e. dentists and hair salons).
- People seated at a table in a restaurant or bar.
- People who have a physical barrier between them.
- Religious institutions, facilities and activities.
- Election polling places.
- Licensed childcare facilities.
- Schools and activities within the purview of school’s governing body.
- Court facilities.
- Wedding and funeral ceremonies.
- Public transportation.
- Health care, hospitals and medical facilities.
- Law enforcement, jails and correctional facilities.
- Long term care and assisted living facilities.
- Public protest activities.
- Prescheduled appointments or online/text message check-in for personal services businesses where 6 feet of physical distancing is not feasible (nail salons, barber shops, hair salons, tattoo parlors, dentists and others.)
- The wearing of masks or other face coverings in the following situations:
- Inside or waiting in line to enter any indoor public space.
- Obtaining services from healthcare settings including, but not limited to, a hospital, pharmacy, medical clinic, laboratory, physician or dental office, vaccination site, COVID-19 testing site, veterinary clinic or blood centers.
- Waiting for or riding on public transportation or while in a taxi, private car service or ride-sharing vehicle.
- While outdoors in public spaces and unable to maintain a 6-foot distance between individuals (not including individuals who reside together) with only infrequent or incidental moments of closer proximity.
- Businesses or organizations in Johnson County must require all employees, customers and others to wear a mask or other face covering when employees are working in any space visited by the public or where food is prepared or packaged, or where people (except for those who live together) can’t maintain a 6-foot distance.
The following people are exempt from wearing masks or other face coverings:
- Children five years or younger.
- People with a medical or mental health condition, or disability, preventing them from wearing a face covering.
- People who are deaf or hard of hearing or communicating with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
- People for whom wearing a face covering would create a risk related to their work.
- People obtaining a service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service.
- People seated at a restaurant while they are eating or drinking, provided they maintain a 6-foot distance between any other tables and individuals seated at such tables.
- Athletes who are engaged in an organized sports activity that allows athletes to maintain a 6-foot distance from others with only infrequent or incidental moments of closer proximity.
- People engaged in an activity that a professional or recreational association, regulatory entity, medical association, or other public-health-oriented entity has determined cannot be safely conducted while wearing a face covering.
- People engaged in a court-related proceeding held or managed by the Kansas Judiciary except as directed or required by the court or Kansas Judiciary.
- People engaged in any lawful activity during which wearing a face covering is prohibited by law.
- People engaged in religious services, ceremonies or activities.
Provisions in the previous order NOT INCLUDED in the order approved on March 25, 2021, which are no longer in effect:
- Limiting mass gatherings in indoor or outdoor spaces to 50 people or less or 50 percent of capacity permitted under fire code, whichever is less.
- Prohibiting outdoor or indoor entertainment venues from holding events with attendance in excess of 2,000 people.
- Prohibiting fairs, festivals, carnivals, parades and similar events.
- Closing of locker rooms in fitness centers, gyms and health clubs.
- Attendance limits for recreational and youth organized sports games and practices.