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Education Efforts Move to Enforcement for Parsons Face Mask Ordinance

08/18/2020

Over the past 6-weeks since the Parsons City Commission instituted a mandatory face mask law the Parsons Police and City Hall have engaged in a community-wide education program to encourage the community to wear face masks when in 'public accommodations.'

The Ordinance Requirements:

City Ordinance Requires the Wearing of a Facial Cover until October 1, 2020. Here is what that generally means:

  •    Persons within 'public service areas' in all places of public accommodation are required to   wear a face mask.
  •    Face masks must cover the nostrils and mouth.

 

Exceptions include:

  •    While eating or drinking at a restaurant.
  •    Settings with 10 or less persons in businesses and offices that do not serve the public and areas not open to the public, unless social distancing cannot be followed (then a mask would be required). Areas such as a workshop, mechanical area, or employee only area with less than 10 employees would not require mask wear.
  •    Reasonable accommodations may be made for individuals with a disabling condition preventing the wearing of a mask. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is not a blanket exemption - a business merely has to make a reasonable accommodation. In a Supermarket, a facial mask is required, and a reasonable accommodation might include curbside delivery of a grocery order for a person claiming an ADA exemption.
  •    Masks may be removed in outdoor settings where social distancing is used.

 

Requirements for businesses:

  •    Posting of signs at all entrances indicating that employees, customers, and visitors to the establishment must wear face masks to be admitted to the business.
  •    Employees of a business of public accommodation are required to wear a mask including the owners in all areas of the business that are opened to the public.
  •    Businesses that fail to comply with the ordinance may receive warning letters, (both locally and also to corporate headquarters for chain stores and franchise businesses), along with enforcement action, if necessary.

 

The community has responded with overwhelming support and self-compliance in donning face masks, even beyond the requirements of the ordinance. Individuals have worn masks on trails, while walking and in offices.

But with any change in community rules, especially during a pandemic, there will always be outlayers who risk the need to take proactive measures to safeguard themselves or their fellow citizens, loved-ones, family, friends and neighbors. It will be these individuals who flaunt the wearing of facial coverings as the law requires, that will now be targeted to receive warnings, criminal citations or be arrested depending on the totality of the circumstances that Officers encounter.

Police will also visit 'public accommodations' focusing first on businesses that have been identified by the community through complaints to inspect compliance with the city law. Businesses are merely required to:

  • Post signs at all entrances indicating that employees, customers, and visitors to the establishment must wear face masks to be admitted to the business.
  • Employees of a business of public accommodation are required to wear a mask including the owners in all areas of the business that are opened to the public.

 

Citizens in a business who are in violation of the face mask law can also be warned, cited or arrested by police.

"We have moved far past discussion about whether masks should or shouldn't be worn," says Police Chief Robert Spinks. "We have also gone through weeks of educational efforts that have been very successful. It's now time to help self-motivate the fraction of the community that is placing fellow citizens at risk."

This week we see the resumption of ground classes at Labette Community College, the dorms are full and 5 LCC athletes were diagnosed positive with COVID-19 last week. The week prior we saw a hot spot erupt at the Presbyterian Manor. Parsons USD #503 will start school on September 8th. So there are huge potentials for the community to be at risk, so its only common sense that we obey the face mask law as one more preventative step that we can all take.

 

On the horizon is also the Fall flu season which can also be mitigated by the community donning face masks. With the COVID-19 pandemic appearing to have no clear end in sight as of now, and flue season runs from October to April. There were an estimated 39,000,000 to 56,000,000 reported flu illnesses (with 24,000 to 62,000 deaths) in the U.S. during the 2019 to 2020 season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Similarly, the CDC reported that the previous season included an estimated 35.5 million illnesses and 34,200 deaths.

The Parsons Police Department is very aware of the risk that COVID-19 presents. We've have 8 employees diagnosed with, battle and recover from COVID-19. The entire Department has been tested, some employees have been tested multiple times. With these tests, employees have had to endure 'modified-quarantine' status over the past weeks.

"We have seen our fellow employees suffer with this virus and we support any efforts to reduce the risk to the community which includes wearing facial coverings, social distancing, handwashing and shift-by-shift cleaning of the police department, works areas, and police vehicles," says Deputy Chief Dennis Dodd.

Parsons is not alone in having a face mask law. Six other Kansas cities have face mask laws along with 15 counties and all of their associated cities have requirements requiring mask wear (see attachment #1 for a list). Nationwide there is a growing number of states that require masks to be worn in public.

 

US Covid map

 

 US Covid Graph

Attachment 1 - Kansas Cities and Counties Mask Laws

According to the Kansas Chamber of Commerce the following Cities in Kansas have implemented their own face mask orders/laws in counties where commissions decided against implementing the governor's order or their own.

 

Emporia

Hays

Manhattan

Parsons

Salina

Wichita

Winfield

 

The following Counties have either adopted the Governor's Order or have adopted and implemented their own face mask mandate/law: 

*Adopted Governor's Order

**Adopted Own Face Mask Mandate

 

Allen County*

Anderson County

Atchison County*

Barber County

Barton County

Bourbon County*

Brown County

Butler County

Clark County

Chase County

Chautauqua County

Cherokee County

Cheyenne County

Clay County

Cloud County

Coffey County

Comanche County

Cowley County

Crawford County*

Decatur County

Dickinson County*

Doniphan County

Douglas County**

Edwards County*

Elk County

Ellis County

Ellsworth County

Finney County

Ford County

Franklin County*

Geary County

Gove County

Graham County

Grant County

Gray County

Greeley County

Greenwood County

Hamilton County

Harper County

Harvey County

Haskell County

Hodgeman County

Jackson County

Jefferson County

Jewell County*

Johnson County*

Kearny County

Kingman County

Kiowa County

Labette County

Lane County

Leavenworth County

Lincoln County

Linn County

Logan County

Lyon County

Marion County

Marshall County

McPherson County

Meade County

Miami County

Mitchell County*

Montgomery County*

Morris County

Morton County

Nemaha County

Neosho County

Ness County

Norton County

Osage County

Osborne County

Ottawa County