BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. — Jackson County moved into Phase 2.5 of its recovery plan Wednesday, opening playgrounds and splashpads.
But while some places could open for the first time, the county also began its version of a mask mandate. The mask rules affect visits to both indoor and outdoor spaces.
At Burrus Old Mill Park, you could hear the sweet sounds of summer on July 1. Balls were bouncing, water was splashing, and children were laughing as more than 100 people enjoyed the playground, splashpad and basketball court.
“This is obviously good for the kids to come out here and enjoy it, especially with the kids being cooped up most of the year,” James Rodriguez said.
At first glance, it was as if nothing had changed.
“It’s about usual for when we come out here during the summer time,” said Pat Schnoor, eyeing the crowd safely from her car.
For the Nichols family, it was their first trip to a playground since last fall.
“We’ve been bored cramped up not doing anything, so we are happy a park is actually open,” Karmella Nichols said as she stood with her siblings.
All five Nichols children and their parents were wearing masks, but they were certainly in the minority.
“I guess a lot of people have not caught it, or known somebody’s who’s caught it. Our family has had it, so we know the severity of it. It put my mom in the ICU for almost two weeks, so it’s pretty serious!” Michael Nichols said.
Signs say masks are now required in Jackson County parks, but further guidance in Phase 2.5 of the plan that went into effect July 1 says not to wear them if they will get wet.
Dionte Neal was out with his kids in the water, though he admitted he’s not completely comfortable being around others.
“How I’m rationalizing it in my head is it’s chlorinated water, and maybe all the germs are getting filtered through,” Neal said.
The move to Phase 2.5 doubles gathering sizes to 100 and allows organizers to host fairs, parades and festivals. The move comes at a time when positive cases of COVID-19 in the area are rising.
But some say it’s still long overdue.
“I think we’ve gone a little bit overboard. We can’t just be on lockdown for months and months and expect everybody to be OK with it,” said one father, who asked to be identified only as “Chris.”