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LAWRENCE, Kan. — A mask mandate in Douglas County will expire just days before Santa arrives.

Currently, children ages 2-11 are required to wear masks while indoor public spaces. That public health order will expire Dec. 22. Douglas County leaders said they don’t expect the order to be extended.

They are asking people to assess their COVID-19 risk and take precautions while gathering over the holidays. That includes being fully vaccinated against the virus, and if eligible, to get a booster vaccine. They also suggest being tested for COVID-19 both before and after attending events, and wearing masks in crowded places.

While the mask mandate will expire, Douglas County leaders said this is not the time for people to let down their guard.

“Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic is not over and COVID is something we will have to live with moving forward,” Dr. Thomas Marcellino, local health officer, said. “The best way to protect yourself is to get vaccinated, including a booster vaccine. Breakthrough infections do occur, but the vaccine will lower the risk of severe disease and death.”

Douglas County reminds everyone that when the county’s order expires, school districts, universities, businesses and other organizations are able to set their own policies. That means if a restaurant or store says masks are required, you’ll need to wear a mask while in that business.