Under the ordinance, masks covering the mouth and nose will be required in indoor and outdoor public spaces where physical distancing’s not possible within city limits.
That includes when in lines to enter the premises, in public transit or ride-share services and while getting health care. Businesses must require them of employees working among the public, during food service and preparation, or in enclosed spaces where physical distancing’s not possible.
Exemptions exist for those aged 5 and under, those with conditions with which masks reduce breathing capacity, the deaf and hard of hearing as well as those communicating with them for lip-reading purposes, those receiving a nose/face service, those seated to dine and in jobs where a mask would create a safety risk. Masks also won’t be required of athletes of sports that can occur with physical distancing or if regulatory or athletic organizations make alternate rulings on mask safety during play.
Violations can be punishable with a $5 for first offense, $10 for second, $20 subsequent. All incidents will result in $98 in court costs for each infraction as well. Enforcement, though, will ultimately fall to RCPD discretion.
Reddi says since the ordinance was first implemented, the majority of residents have done well at complying with the requirement during the summer — noting the reduction in weekly percent positives since July.
Even so, she raised concerns about the ordinance’s enforcement in light of large numbers of people not wearing masks in Aggieville and around K-State the weekend before classes began. Reddi says lack of vigilance could lead to percent positive rates rising above 10 percent, the threshold for USD 383 to move to remote education.
“I feel like in this instance, it’s almost by complaint,” says Reddi. “As though I need to see somebody or somebody else needs to see somebody and call it in.”
RCPD Director Dennis Butler says he’s handled the ordinance consistently with his and the department’s approach to new ordinances in the past, by urging voluntary compliance, issuing warnings as well as in this case handing out masks rather than citing people in all cases.