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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As the delta variant continues to spread rapidly throughout much of Missouri, the indoor mask mandate is back in force within Kansas City, Missouri city limits.

But under the city’s rules, businesses that require proof of vaccination don’t have to require masks or distancing inside their establishments.

Otherwise businesses must require that anyone 5 years of age or older, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask indoors, in public places through Aug. 28.

“For our guests to be able to take their masks off and eat and drink and enjoy themselves, we have to have at least 6 feet between tables, which takes us back to a place where we’re barely surviving again,” said Jeff Edmondson, owner of Woody’s KC.

Woody’s is one of several bars and restaurants on Broadway Boulevard that will require proof of vaccination beginning Tuesday. Hamburger Mary’s and comedy club KC Improv Company will also join in requiring COVID vaccines.

Kansas City bar The Ship announced Monday that after 7 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, it will require a vaccination card (a photo of your vaccination card or a third-party vaccine record app will also be accepted) or proof of a negative COVID test from the past 48 hours.

But The Ship said masks will still be required to enter the building, order at the bar or anytime customers aren’t actively eating or drinking.

When Mayor Quinton Lucas announced the mask mandate last week, he said there’s been a 15% increase in people seeking hospital care for COVID-19 infections in the last week.

And as long as the virus continues to spread, variants will continue to adapt and develop. Kansas City public health leaders don’t want the next mutation to have the ability to defeat vaccines that are currently available.

This change doesn’t mean that the vaccines aren’t working, they stressed. There’s only one reason for it: Too many unvaccinated people, and too many of the unvaccinated are getting sick with the virus.