Wary of another stay-at-home order, Johnson County approves new restrictions to curb COVID-19

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OLATHE, Kan. — Johnson County leaders have approved new COVID-19 restrictions set to begin Monday.

There’s no doubt there’s a major growth of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalization in Johnson County and around the metro.

Hospitals, the health department and schools said rising coronavirus cases are becoming a major burden and action is needed.

So after a six-hour meeting Friday night, the Johnson County Commission voted 4-3, approving new restrictions aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus and preventing another shutdown.

On Friday, county leaders approved capping public mass gatherings to 50 people or 50%. Schools and places of worship are exempt. The gathering limit also does not apply explicitly to bars, restaurants and retailers.

Anyone wanting to hold a public gathering with more than 50 people or 50% capacity, e.g. a wedding or funeral, can submit a safety plan to the county for consideration.

All other businesses must enforce face masks and 6 feet social distancing, with the exception of personal services like salons, doctors offices, etc. where social distancing is not possible. Masks will still be required at those businesses.

Bars and restaurants serving alcohol are required to close at midnight.

The new restrictions will go into effect Monday and will not end until at least Jan. 31.

“My strongest urge for this is that we find something we can live with, that we can enforce, and that people in the community can do because we are in a crisis now and that I think is most important, recommendations we feel are acceptable in this area,” said Johnson County Public Health Officer Dr. Joseph Lemaster.

The county already has a next step in mind to improve enforcement: County attorneys are drafting a civil penalty to fine businesses up to $500 per violation of the order.

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