On Wednesday, Gov. Laura Kelly implemented a second executive order mandating face coverings in response to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
Some called her a tyrant, imposing her will over the state. Other Kansans praised her for following science and trying to fix the state’s COVID-19 situation. But beyond the politics, what exactly does the order mean for you? Here’s a quick breakdown.
What difference is there between the new order and the governor’s original mask mandate?
Not much. Both require the wearing of face coverings in public indoor spaces or when social distancing is not possible, as well as many of the same mask-wearing requirements.
Most notably, because of legislation passed by GOP lawmakers to emphasize local control, counties have the ability to opt out of the order, just like the first one.
So do I have to follow this new order?
Depends on the county you live in, and what your county decides to do with the new order.
If you live in a county that already opted into the governor’s first mask mandate, or created its own face mask requirement, you don’t need to worry about this new order.
But if you live in a county that has no mask order, you’ll have to watch closely what your county commissioners do. They have until Nov. 25 to formally meet and opt out again. If they don’t, this new order automatically goes into effect on that day.
I live in a county with no mask mandate. What does the order require exactly on mask-wearing if it goes into effect?
One must wear a mask when inside, or in line to enter, any indoor public space; when obtaining services from the healthcare sector; when waiting for or riding on public transportation or while in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle; and when outdoors and unable to socially distance 6 feet.
Businesses and organizations must also require face masks for employees who are working in spaces visited by the public, working in spaces where food is prepared or packaged, working in or walking through common areas or in any room where social distancing is not possible.
Members of the public visiting the business must wear masks, unless seated at a restaurant and socially distanced.
Those under five and those with medical conditions affecting mask-wearing are exempt.
Why did the governor issue this order, even if counties can still opt out again?
Her new order will force counties with no mask requirement to revisit the mask issue, or else masks will automatically be required. Already, many cities and counties have recently put in mask mandates in the past few weeks in response to the surge in cases.
With this move, counties can’t ignore or put off the mask debate. One will soon be able to tell the current state of opinion on masks from all counties across the state.
How will it be enforced?
Depends on how your county decides the mask mandate will be enforced. Some have gone with financial penalties, while many have emphasized educating and offering a mask to the violator first.
Regardless, enforcement is still very difficult, and success of any mask mandate will rely heavily on Kansans voluntarily following the order.