Saying Kansans must act to slow the spread of the coronavirus in communities, Gov. Laura Kelly on Thursday morning issued the executive order on masks she outlined earlier in the week.


Kelly’s order requiring masks to be worn in public spaces and places where social distancing can’t be maintained will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday. It will remain in place until it is rescinded or the statewide state of disaster emergency expires, whichever is earlier.


"The last few months have presented many new challenges for Kansans, and all of us want to return to our normal lives and routines," Kelly said in a news release. "Unfortunately, we have seen a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths across our state and our country. We must act.


"Viruses don’t stop at county lines. This order doesn’t change where you can go or what you can do. But wearing a mask is a simple and effective way to keep Kansans healthy and keep Kansas open for business."


The order requires Kansans to wear masks inside all public spaces — including workplace environments — and in situations where the recommended 6 feet of social distance can’t be maintained.


Children under the age of 5, those with medical conditions and others specifically outlined in the order are exempt from requirements. The order specifically notes that children 2 and under shouldn’t wear masks because of the risk of suffocation.


Others who are exempt from the order include those who are deaf or have difficulty communicating; restaurant patrons, provided they can adhere to social-distancing guidelines; athletes participating in a socially-distanced sporting activity; and people involved in court-related proceedings.