City of Lawrence requiring masks in all facilities, suspending exercise and free play at rec centers

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The City of Lawrence is once again putting in place more strict measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Among those measures, recreational facilities will be closed to general exercise and free play, the city announced Friday. “Scheduled programs at these facilities will be limited and facility cleaning will be enhanced.”


In addition, masks will again be required inside all city facilities for anyone ages 2 and up.

Officials with Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health have moved the county’s community transmission indicator status to red, meaning the rolling 14-day average number of new cases reported daily has topped 50 — as of Wednesday, it was 55.79 — and total active cases in the county have topped 1,000. Wednesday’s update showed 1,216 active cases.

In the red status, health officials encourage people to limit group social gatherings, consider limiting contact in indoor public places and exercise alone outside. They could also consider recommending a communitywide mask mandate.

Click here to see the latest COVID-19 stats for Lawrence, the Lawrence school district, and Douglas County on the Times’ dashboard.

City Hall will remain open to the public, “but people are strongly encouraged to make payments and submit forms either online or via email, mail or phone” rather than visit in person, according to the announcement.

The emergency winter shelter will remain open “with added precautions,” the announcement said, though it did not go into further detail about what those are.

Separately, the city announced Friday that with extremely cold temperatures and snow in the forecast, the winter shelter will be open all day Saturday, Jan. 1. Volunteers are still needed to help staff the building; a signup form is online here. The shelter, at the Community Building at 115 W. 11th St., generally opens at 8 p.m. on nights when the temperature will be 35° or below.

Just Dec. 2, the city had removed its mask requirement inside city facilities for those who are vaccinated. Plans changed fairly quickly as the numbers of COVID-19 cases have continued to rise. The Lawrence City Commission also returned to hybrid meetings, with commissioners attending virtually, on Dec. 21.

See this page on the city’s website for a list of phone numbers to call and find out a particular building’s status. You can also call City Hall at 785-832-3000 if you have questions about the status of city services and facilities.

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