TOPEKA/POTT. Co., June 29 -- Masks will be mandatory in Kansas starting July 3, according to a new executive order being put in place by Governor Laura Kelly.

She made the announcement in a press conference this afternoon.

"Beginning 12:01 a.m., July 3, every Kansan in a public space must wear a mask," she said. "This doesn't change where you can go, or what you can do. It just means if you are around other people,  you must wear a mask. It also means if you are outside and social distancing of six feet cannot be maintained, you must wear a mask.

"We're starting this on Friday so businesses have time to prepare and acquire proper cloth masks," she continued. 

She added the order would be published with additional guidelines on Thursday.

In prefacing the announcement, Kelly said Kansas was now "trending upward" and that outbreaks were not in places like barbershops and hair salons, but "We are seeing a significant increase in clusters related to gatherings where masks are not being worn," she said. "Remember, your mask protects me, my mask protects you.

"When the pandemic first hit, there was mixed messages about masks," she said. "But new evidence is clear. Wearing a mask is not only safe, but necessary to avoid another shutdown."

She concluded her remarks noting, "I know this is frustrating and I know we all want it to be over. But we're still in it, and we're in it together. Kansans have shown such resilience and compassion in this pandemic, I know we'll all step up to this challenge and slow the threat of this virus to protect their loved ones and keep Kansas open for business."

In a press release from Pottawatomie County, Crystal Malchose, Public Information Officer, noted that Kelly said the enforcement will remain at the local level. 

Malchose added once the order is published, Pottawatomie County will place a link on its website and notify people through social media. 

She also listed the current county numbers. Pottawatomie County now has 69 positive cases, an increase of seven since Friday. Fifty-five of them are recovered and 14 are active. There  are no current hospitalizations and no deaths. There are 15 tests pending.

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