KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With the number of COVID-19 infections continuing to rise, Mayor Quinton Lucas extended the mask mandate indefinitely Friday.
Public health experts say getting more people to wear masks will enable schools to safely reopen this fall. The mayor says the earliest the mask mandate would be lifted is now August 15, but coronavirus cases would have to drop dramatically for that to happen.
Because a number of recent infections have been traced to bars and restaurants, the city also is keeping its 50% capacity restriction in place for those businesses.
Masks are required indoors in buildings with public access where six-feet of separation can’t be guaranteed. The city also is expanding coronavirus testing next week at the Homefield sports facility on Bannister Road.
Kansas Citians can register online for testing Monday through Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“It is my preference for us to not have to shut down parts of the economy again at any point,” Lucas said. “However, should it become necessary, we will do all that is necessary. As you’ve seen in Texas, as you’ve seen in Arizona, not big progressive states, but places where they’ve seen the spread is so significant that they needed to take that step to keep people safe.”
Public health director Dr. Rex Archer says he wants 95% of Kansas Citians to wear masks.
He says with compliance that high, schools will be able to safely reopen and fans can return to the stadiums this fall.
The city also is looking at alternative violence prevention events to large gatherings like Night Hoops and Club KC. Those plans include hosting a video game tournament.
The mayor says masks are not a political issue as Republican leaders in Texas and Arizona have turned to mask mandates to stop the virus. He also says it’s not a freedom issue, arguing that wearing a mask will restore the freedoms Americans enjoy.