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Johnson County’s mask order has lifted, but many local cities say they plan to still encourage masks be worn inside municipal facilities and public spaces.
The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners opted to allow the county’s latest public health order, which included a countywide mask mandate, expire at the end of April.
However, the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment continues to strongly encourage people to wear masks and maintain social distancing among members of different households while in public.
In general, cities in northern Johnson County that responded to the Shawnee Mission Post’s inquiry, recommend following guidance from the county health department as well as the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That includes continuing to urge residents to wear masks in most public indoor places, especially when physical distance cannot be maintained.
Here’s what cities in northern Johnson County are saying about masks and other COVID-19 mitigation protocols:
Lenexa will no longer require masks to be worn in public buildings.
However, city staff will “strongly encourage” those visiting city facilities to wear masks and practice social distancing, said Denise Rendina, city spokesperson.
“We will continue to utilize operational adjustments made during the pandemic in the coming weeks (enhanced cleaning protocols, spacing out fitness equipment at the Lenexa Rec Center, limiting capacity to certain facilities and programs, etc.),” Rendina said via email. “We continue to take guidance from Johnson County Health and Environment for direction on mitigation protocols.”
In an email to the Post, City Clerk Kelly Varner said Leawood’s ongoing COVID-19 mitigation protocols would be discussed at the next governing body meeting on Monday, May 17.
The Mission City Council is currently discussing next steps now that the county’s mask mandate has been lifted.
In the meantime, the Mission Police Department will continue to act as if the mask mandate is in place, until the city council can meet.
Merriam will continue to “strongly recommend” the public to wear masks and maintain social distancing in public places.
City Administrator Chris Engel said the city plans to continue conducting public meetings virtually.
Click here to see Merriam’s Facebook post providing further details.
City spokesperson Cody Kennedy said the city still recommends (but does not require) masks be worn inside all municipal facilities. City employees are also strongly encouraged to wear masks in public buildings, he said.
Social distancing guidelines in public places are still in place, capacity is limited at public meetings and clear barriers and partitions remain up in public areas where they are needed, Kennedy told the Post.
The Olathe City Council is currently conducting in-person meetings with limited capacity.
Overland Park will no longer require masks be worn in public buildings, but the city is still encouraging the public to wear masks.
Sean Reilly, city spokesperson, said the city is also returning to in-person meetings this month. The city also encourages meeting attendees to wear masks.
“Further, to ensure proper social distancing, seating in the City Council Chamber will be limited at this meeting and other public meetings,” Reilly said via email. “The Planning Commission meeting, and City Council and its committee meetings all offer the public to watch the meetings live online.”
Following the direction of Johnson County, Prairie Village will “strongly encourage” residents to wear masks in city facilities and also offer masks to people when they arrive in city buildings, said Jamie Robichaud, deputy city administrator.
“There is no mandatory mask requirement in Prairie Village, so mask requirements are left up to individual businesses,” Robichaud said via email. “The City is currently working on a plan to bring meetings back to either in person or a hybrid of in-person and remote, but meetings will remain virtual for the time being until a plan is finalized and approved by the City Council.”
City council meetings are available to watch virtually via Facebook.
For the time being, Roeland Park city meetings are available to join in person or virtually.
However, meeting attendees are still required to wear a mask, and only eight people will be allowed in the council chambers, and an additional 12 attendees will be allowed in the adjoining conference room at city hall, according to a message the city posted on Facebook.
Shawnee will “strongly encourage” people to wear masks inside city facilities, although masks will no longer be required, said Julie Breithaupt, communications manager.
“Shawnee will continue to keep disposable masks, hand sanitizer, optional temperature screening stations and social distancing floor stickers out as we continue to follow local, regional and federal guidelines when it comes to COVID-19,” Breithaupt said via email. “We will also strongly encourage people to wear masks inside our City facilities and will maintain social distancing in all public meeting areas.”
A Johnson County judge last month dismissed a lawsuit filed by a woman who sued Shawnee after she said she was not allowed into a city council meeting without a mask.
Westwood will also no longer require masks in city buildings or public spaces.
Leslie Herring, chief administrative officer and city clerk, said the next city council meeting on Thursday, May 13, will be conducted in hybrid format, with some councilmembers attending in person and the rest attending virtually.
Read our other recent coverage on masks in Johnson County:
- With no more mandate, Johnson County businesses make their own mask rules — here’s how it’s going
- Johnson County police agencies prepared to resolve mask disputes — but hoping it won’t come to that
- Johnson County public schools will still require masks after county’s order lifted
- Without mask order, Johnson County stands as outlier in Kansas City’s ‘Core 4’