New health order removes restaurant, bar restrictions, keeps mask ordinance

(Infographic by Abigail Compton | Collegian Media Group)

Local health officer Julie Gibbs announced Health Order 20 which rescinds all parts of order 19 except the mask mandate.

Beginning on March 1, restaurants and bars can stay open past midnight without customer limits, events and gatherings can exceed 50 people and there is no event request process.

The health order states masks or a face covering still must be worn in public spaces.

“This decision was made after looking at several factors. For the past four weeks, the number of cases has continued to decline and we have not seen any new outbreaks. Additionally, there is minimal strain on local and regional health structures. We’ve also been able to ramp up our vaccination efforts,” Gibbs said.

The health department still “strongly encourages” individuals to maintain social distancing.

To move to this phase, the Emergency Operations Center created criteria Riley County needed to meet. This includes a positivity rate below seven percent for four weeks, the hospital system not be overwhelmed, less than five active outbreaks for six weeks and a decline in percent positives.

The Riley County percent positivity rate sits at three percent.

The EOC will review the health order in a month.

“It’s important to be safe so we can continue to work through this and do not have to take steps backward. We need to start working towards what this new normalcy looks like, ” county commissioner John Ford said.

There are currently 97 positive cases of COVID-19 in Riley County.

My name is Bailey Britton and I am the former editor-in-chief of the Collegian. Previously, I have been the assistant news editor and the managing editor. I have also interned for the Manhattan Mercury and the Colby Free Press. I grew up in Colby, Kansas, and I am a junior in journalism and English. Through the Collegian, I aim to provide the K-State community with quality news coverage while we learn to serve our campus.