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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — The city of Independence announced Wednesday a new health order that will go into effect Thursday that encourages everyone to wear masks while indoors.

“The new CDC recommendations reaffirm the Public Health Advisory the City of Independence issued on July 9,” Mayor Eileen Weir said. “We have seen troubling data for our region – with watershed testing nearly doubling for cases of the Delta variant and regional hospitals at capacity.

Weir said she encourages everyone, regardless of vaccine status, to wear a mask while in indoor spaces.

This comes after Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas announced Wednesday a reinstated indoor mask mandate for everyone aged 5 and older, regardless of vaccine status starting Monday, August 2.

“Beginning on August 2, we are expanding access to Independence Health Department vaccine clinics across the city with options five days a week,” Weir said. “We are also exploring resources to provide more testing options in our area.”

The health order also ask that people avoid large groups or other crowd-based activities. All businesses are encouraged to require masks of their employees and guests when indoors. Further businesses are encouraged to promote vaccination among their staff.

Exceptions to the mask recommendation include minors below the age of 5, those who have disabilities for which masks constitute a substantial impairment to their health and well-being based upon medical, behavioral, or legal direction and for whom an accommodation cannot be made to allow business to be conducted remotely, curbside, or outdoors; and those who are actively engaged in consuming food or drink while remaining seated. Professional athletes actively engaged in high-intensity, organized game play. Masks are required at all other times in gyms and fitness facilities without further exception.

“We are closely monitoring the changes occurring in our area,” Weir said. “We will have Independence data on our website for our residents and stakeholders later this week. Our city remains steadfast in protecting the health of our citizens, as we have throughout the on-going global pandemic. I will review the health order with our staff weekly and will make changes as necessary as we work through this surge.

“Please continue to do all you can to protect yourself and your neighbors. If you have not already, please consider getting a vaccine and talking to a trusted healthcare provider to answer any questions you might have. Stay home if you are sick, get tested if any symptoms resemble COVID-19, and regularly wash your hands. Our community is relying on each of us to do our part by complying with the city recommendations.”